Not on display
- Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
- Oil paint on canvas
- Support: 451 × 692 mm
frame: 718 × 950 × 60 mm
- Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940
On his first visits to Venice, Walter Sickert focused on painting the familiar landmarks of the city. The church of Santa Maria della Salute occurs a number of times in his pictures (fig.1), usually viewed from the vantage point of the Molo near St Mark’s.1 However, in Venice: La Salute, the vantage point is much closer and raises the possibility that Sickert might initially have sketched it from a boat. The other, more prosaic prospect is that Sickert simply cropped a fuller, more distant view of the church. This is certainly supported by his concentration on a ‘close up’ of part of Santa Maria della Salute. It enables him to give a sense not just of the detail of the architecture, but its bulk and mass, and there is also a sense of approaching or retreating from the church steps. Such cropping was a device appropriated from the impressionist painter Edgar Degas, and was used to produce more dynamic and interesting compositions.
Sickert made two versions of this oil. One of them was exhibited in Paris at Bernheim’s in 1907, but it is not possible to distinguish which. The other painting was first owned by Lord Croft, and is now entitled The Steps of Santa Maria della Salute c.1901 (private collection).2 There are a number of differences between the two works. The Tate picture has a shallower foreground than The Steps of Santa Maria della Salute, and is more silvery and grey in palette. The other version has the same figures on the steps, but the one on the left is painted in red to give a prominent accent to the composition. Both works are based on a charcoal and brown wash drawing, exhibited as Salute at the Carfax Gallery in May 1912.3
See Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, no.168.
Reproduced ibid., no.169.1, and Modern British & Irish Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Sotheby’s, London, 28 September 1994 (63).
Paintings and Drawings by Walter Sickert, Carfax Gallery, London, May 1912 (25); Baron 2006, no.169.2; see Anna Gruetzner Robins, Walter Sickert: Drawings, Aldershot 1996, p.92.
Letter in a private collection.
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