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Grand Canal

American Museum Collection

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Height9 inxWidth 14 in



"Grand Canal, Venice" by Richard Parkes Bonington, 1802–1828, British

Bonington left Paris for Italy with his friend and pupil Charles Rivet, later Baron Rivet, on 4 April 1826. They traveled quickly through France and Switzerland, arriving in Milan on 11 April. Bonington was eager to press on, for, as Rivet noted, he “thinks only of Venice” (Noon, 1991, p. 56). Reaching Verona on 18 April, they arrived in Venice a few days later and stayed there until the end of May. Bonington sketched incessantly in graphite, watercolor, and oils. These sketches provided subject matter for much of his finished art in the remaining months of his life. From Venice the two friends went on to Padua, Florence, Pisa, Lerici, Genoa, and Turin, never lingering in any one place. Rivet was back in Paris by 20 June, though Bonington may have done some further traveling on his own in Switzerland. In 1825 Bonington had begun sketching en plein air in oils on small millboards, which he discovered during his trip to London. He seems to have brought back about two dozen such sketches on millboard from Italy (Noon, 1991, pp. 59–60). This oil sketch shows the north side of the Grand Canal near its entrance, looking towards the Bacino di San Marco. While Bonington has deftly captured the brilliant shimmering light on the water and the facades of the palazzi, topographical accuracy was clearly not a priority. He has elided the famous Palazzo Gritti-Pisani from the succession of buildings lining the canal.
-- Scott Wilcox, 2007-01

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