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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Doge's Palace and the Grand Canal, Venice

Photo: Paul Macapia

The Doge's Palace and the Grand Canal, Venice

ca. 1710

Luca Carlevariis

Italian, Venice, 1663-1729

In the 18th century, scores of northern Europeans traveled to Italy to experience viewing historical treasures dating back to the classical period. This journey—known as the Grand Tour—became an essential part of the education of young aristocrats. Italian artists made view paintings (vedute) of the Italian scene, such as this lively depiction of Venice’s wharf on the Grand Canal, as souvenirs for English travelers to take home.

Carlevariis was one of the earliest practitioners of this form. Here he includes the familiar buildings that still greet tourists at the entrance to the Grand Canal, but he is equally fascinated by the cross-section of individuals that congregated in the city when it was a center of global trade.
Oil on canvas
37 3/4 x 75 3/4 in. (95.9 x 192.4 cm)
Gift of Floyd A. Naramore
Provenance: Mr. Crowe, England, from ca. 1710; Squire of Stoke Rockford, C. Turner, dates unknown; [Christie's London, 22 February, 1924, cat. no. 78]; Sir Harold Sidney Harmsworth P.C., Lord Rothermere (1868-1940), England; to his son Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, Lord Rothermere (1898-1978), England; [David M. Koetser Gallery, New York and London, to 1950]; purchased by Seattle Art Museum (funds from Floyd A. Naramore), May 1, 1950
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view

A Day in the Life

During the eighteenth century, extended travel in Europe formed an important part of an English gentleman's education, exposing him both to monuments of history and European aristocratic society. In Italy, the Grand Tour usually encompassed stops in Florence, Rome, Venice and Naples, with its ancient sites nearby. During these voyages, which could last several years, travelers collected artifacts, books, works of art and other collectibles to display in their homes. Veduta, or view paintings, became popular as souvenirs of this important period in one's life. Living with vedute, the traveler might find that his specific memories of Venice would gradually merge with the painting's sunny image of vivacious city life and perpetually rosy summer. 
"Antiquities of Naples" (souvenir for Grand Tour travelers), 1772, Antoine Cardon
Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California (P980008)

Landmarks in This Painting

Detail, Santa Maria della Salute, des. Baldassare Longhena,1630-1681, 50.70
Detail, Lion of St. Mark, 50.70
Detail, Doge's Palace, des. Filippo Calendario (?), 1309-1424, 50.70
Detail, Biblioteca Marciana, des. Jacopo Sansovino, 1537-1588. 50.70

Vedute and the Grand Tour: Two Approaches

View of Doge’s Palace from the Riva degli Sciavoni, ca. 1710, Luca Carlevariis
Carlevariis is known to have painted several quartets of Venetian views for northern patrons. These groupings focused on the architectural pageantry of the area around Piazza San Marco, where the Grand Canal opens to the wide Bacino San Marco and boat passengers disembark near the medieval Doge's Palace and the great civic architecture of the sixteenth-century architect Jacopo Sansovino. This was the starting point for tourists and the place where the city met the expansive sky and water that combine to give Venice its particular quality of light.
Fantasy View with the Pantheon and Other Monuments of Ancient Rome, 1737, Giovanni Paolo Panini
Carlevariis finessed the same views again and again, relying on prominent Venetian arcades to create convincing displays of perspective, and he typically completed a series of views for a single client. In Rome, his younger contemporary, Giovanni Paolo Panini, efficiently combined accurate renderings of several picturesque monuments into a single fanciful view. These fanciful hybrids were prized by collectors, who did not demand topographical accuracy.


Andy Schultz, Associate Professor of Art History, Pennsylvania State University, talks about Carlevariis' painting of Venice
Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Seattle Art Museum, describes how Carlevariis' painting is displayed


Exhibition HistoryChicago, Illinois, The Art Institute of Chicago "Painting in Italy in the Eighteenth Century" 1970 Circuit: Minneapolis Institute of Arts 1970-71; Toledo Museum of Art 1971

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, "XVIII Century Venetian Drawings: Drawings from American Academic Collections, Paintings from the Seattle Art Museum," September 22, 1974 - October 20, 1974 (9/22/1974 - 10/20/1974)

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Renaissance & Baroque Art," February 8, 1950 - March 5, 1950 (2/8/1950 - 3/5/1950)

Vancouver, British Columbia, Vancouver Art Gallery, "Old Masters: Baroque Paintings," April 16, 1952 - May 4, 1952 (4/16/1952 - 5/4/1952)
Published ReferencesSeattle Art Museum. Renaissance & Baroque Art. Exhibition Catalogue. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, 1950.

Rizzi, Aldo. Disegni incisioni e bozzetti del Carlevariis. Exhibition Catalogue, Udine, Italy, 1963, pl. XXXI

Rizzi, Aldo. Luca Carlevariis. Venice: Alfieri, 1967, 94, pl. IX, fig. 140

Flannegan, Barry. Painting in Italy in the Eighteenth Century: Rococo to Romanticism. Exhibit Catalog, Chicago Art Institute. Chicago, Illinois, 1970, p. 58-60, fig. 18

Henry Art Gallery. XVIII Century Venice: Drawings from American Academic Collections, Paintings from the Seattle Art Museum. Exhibition Catalogue, Henry Art Gallery. Seattle, Washington, 1974, 5, 7

Bory, Jean-Francois. L'Ecole Venitienne. Editions Ides et Calendes: Neuchatel, Switzerland, 1988

"Selected Works." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, p. 95

Ishikawa, Chiyo. "Seattle Art Museum." In Italian Treasures in the U.S.: An Itinerary of Art. Edited by Renato Miracco. Rome: Gangemi Editore International Publishing, 2015, p. 200, reproduced p. 203.

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