Arthur Melville

The Blue Night, Venice

1897

Medium
Watercolour and gouache on board
Dimensions
Support: 864 x 610 mm
frame: 1210 x 952 x 30
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1940
Reference
N05067

Display caption

Arthur Melville travelled to Venice in 1894. The city had long been a favourite subject for painters, but Melville found something new. The Blue Night shows St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile dissolving into the dusk.

Melville evolved a new watercolour method. He saturated the paper with Chinese white paint and used sponges to create a velvet-like texture. Before applying the paint, he tried out ideas on pieces of glass held over the painting. Colour, such as the blue used here, drew attention not just to the subject of the work, but to the medium itself.

Gallery label, October 2013

Catalogue entry

N05067 THE BLUE NIGHT, VENICE 1897

Inscr. ‘Arthur Melville. 97.’ b.l.
Watercolour, 34×24 (86×61).
Presented by W. Graham Robertson, 1940.
Coll: Mrs Arthur Melville; W. Graham Robertson, 1906.
Exh: R.W.S., 1898 (118), as ‘A Venetian Night’; R.S.A., 1905 (69); R.I., 1906 (49), Newcastle, 1906 (47), Nottingham, 1907 (11), and Dublin 1907 (454); Franco-British Exhibition, Fine Arts Palace, Shepherd's Bush, 1908 (448).
Lit: T. Martin Wood, ‘The Art of the late Arthur Melville, R.W.S., A.R.S.A.’ in Studio, XXXVII, 1906, p.288; Feddon and Long, 1924, pp.44 and 59; W. Graham Robertson, Time Was, 1931, p.284; Mackay, 1951, pp.107, 117 and 127.

A nocturnal impression of the Piazza San Marco, Venice.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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