The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking Toward the Rialto

Richard Parkes Bonington1826

Kimbell Art Museum

Kimbell Art Museum

Bonington was one of the most supremely gifted landscape painters Britain has produced, comparable in artistic stature to J. M. W. Turner and John Constable but less familiar because he died young and left a comparatively small body of works, most on a modest scale. His on-the-spot oil sketches of Venice show him bringing to oil the subtle effects of light and atmosphere that he had mastered as a watercolorist, bearing out his friend Eugène Delacroix’s observation that he possessed “a lightness of touch . . . that makes his works a type of diamond that flatters and ravishes the eye.” Here the view looks along the Grand Canal, the city’s busy main thoroughfare, toward the Rialto Bridge. At this date, Venice was not the popular attraction for artists from other parts of Europe that it was to become. Indeed, Bonington played a leading role in the creation of a modern vision of its beauties––an atmospheric, even ethereal vision that is quite distinct from that of the native Italian view painters who preceded him, notably Canaletto and Guardi. Contemporaries found in his views the poignant, evanescent Venice described in Romantic literature, especially the poems of Lord Byron.

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  • Title: The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking Toward the Rialto
  • Creator: Richard Parkes Bonington
  • Date Created: 1826
  • Physical Dimensions: 13 7/8 x 17 7/8 in. (35.2 x 45.4 cm)
  • Provenance: Probably sold in one of the auctions of works remaining in the artist’s studio at his death; either (Sotheby’s, London, 29–30 June 1829, no. 105), as View of the Rialto, Venice, purchased by Townshend; or the same sale, no. 216, as The Rialto, purchased by Barnet; or, most likely, (Christie’s, London, 23–24 May 1834, no. 145), as View of the Rialto at Venice, with vessels, gondolas, and figures—beautifully clear picture, purchased by Sir Henry Webb; (possibly his sale, Paris, 23–24 May 1837, lot 22). Lady MacKintosh from 1950; (her sale, Christie’s, London, 20 November 1987, no. 61); purchased by (Richard Feigen & Co., Inc., New York); purchased by Mr. and Mrs. John Pomerantz, New York, 1987; purchased through (Richard Feigen & Co., Inc., New York) by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 2009.
  • Rights: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
  • External Link: www.kimbellart.org
  • Medium: Oil on millboard
  • Century: 19th century
  • Artist Nationality: British (English)
  • Artist Dates: (1802–1828)