Monet was sixty-eight when he discovered the enchantments of Venice; once again, he was following in the footsteps of Turner and Whistler.
Turner was attracted to Venice by its famous painters, and its literary and historical associations. But perhaps more important were the beauties of the city itself and its celebrated light effects. His three visits resulted in an astonishing array of paintings and watercolours, produced mainly in his fifties and sixties. Though often radical in their handling of paint, the oils still managed to find buyers, unlike so much of his late work which the critics ridiculed.
Whistler sought refuge in Venice in 1879, broken by the disastrous effects of his lawsuit against Ruskin. He stayed for over a year, producing around a hundred pastels, more than fifty etchings and a few oils. He explored widely: ‘I have learned to know a Venice in Venice that the others never seem to have perceived’.
Monet’s first glimpse of the city left him ‘overcome with admiration’. For over two months he continued the struggle to paint architecture, light and water he’d begun earlier on the Thames. Seduced by the ‘floating city’, he was once again fascinated by a landscape shrouded in mist.