oil on canvas
signed lower right, verso with "Richard Green Gallery, London, UK" label.
19-3/4" x 14-1/2", framed 26" x 21"
Provenance: RIchard Green Gallery, London, UK; Private collection.
Notes: Venice has for centuries been an inspiration for artists and writers, but in the 19th century the lagoon city's Gothic architecture became a focal point in paintings. John Ruskin, the English writer and artist, fell in love with the city at age 16 upon his first visit. He eventually wrote a 3-volume treatise on Venetian architecture titled The Stones of Venice, in which he fervently praises its beauty and fragility. This important work spearheaded an awareness of the need to preserve this medieval city precariously floating on water.
As Ruskin writes:
"[Venice]â€¦ is still left for our beholding in the final period of her decline: a ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak-so quiet,-so bereft of all but her loveliness, that we might well doubt, as we watched her faint reflection in the mirage of the lagoon, which was the City, and which the Shadow. I would endeavor to trace the lines of this image before it be forever lost, and to record, as far as I may, the warning which seems to me to be uttered by every one of the fast-gaining waves, that beat, like passing bells, against the Stones of Venice."
Venice is about light and the myriad ways in which it is reflected on the golden facades of the ancient buildings and water. In Rubens Santoro's painting simply titled "Venezia" we present here, the city appears to float between water and sky, preying on the viewer's imagination and contributing to the myth of this dreamy, and at once decadent and crumbling place. This painting, almost a photographic view of a Venetian canal, provides a glimpse of what the city looked like, with its inhabitants and eternally present gondolas. Here is a moment caught by the painter's brush, of serene summer midday, with people lazily strolling along the canals, pigeons looking for crumbs and gondoliers waiting for customers. It is also the Venice Ruskin helped to preserve and one that is formed in our collective imagination.