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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Paintings I've Not Done Yet--Venice

Copyright, Jim Lane
The Doge's Palace fronting on San Marcos Piazza with its present
day horde of invading tourists. The image was created by "stitching" together three separate photos. Given the limited depth of the area
and the broad expanse of the palace, this is an image that could be
captured in no other way...unless you drew it on location.
Copyright, Jim Lane
One of a long line of painters today
working the streets of Venice.
No one is sure quite when it was, but the Italian city we today call Venice began the day a few mainland refugees drove some sturdy post into the salty marsh of Ven-ice's small group of islands upon which to build crude family shelters. Situated on some 117 tiny islands approximately three miles from the mainland, this effort was seen as a means of evading the horde of Germanic Huns descending from the North. I've often wondered how long it may have been after that day when some Venetian artist first painted a picture of the place. Granted, the first wooden fishing huts rising above the tides on stilts likely weren't what you'd call lovely. Moreover those intrepid victims of the fall of the Roman Empire probably had little time to paint and draw for the first few hundred years. They were poor fishermen before they became wealthy traders. Yet the art of painting may go back further here than any Italian city except Rome.

Copyright, Jim Lane
Venice's famed Grand Canal meanders between the city's two
main island forming the letter "S." This was a beautiful, bright
sunny day, but the colors were nothing like those many artists
have used to capture its romantic essence.
Copyright, Jim Lane
The San Marcos
Campanile (bell
tower) stands tall
directly across the
square from the
church and the
Doge's Palace.
Although it's hard to say when someone first painted the canals of Venice, it's not so hard to date the first of the millions (billions?) of photographs taken of the city (roughly since 1850). I may not have painted the city at the time but I was certainly among the massive number who have tried to capture Venice's amazing charms through a camera lens. Whether artist or photographer, a visitor to Venice would be derelict in his or her duty not to bring back images of the Grand Canal (above), San Marcos Campanile (left), the Rialto Bridge, the Doge's Palace (top), the Basilica of San Marcos itself, and perhaps San Giorgio Maggiore (directly across the main channel from San Marcos). Of these, I missed only the Rialto Bridge. The Campanile was composed of two photos, the break coming near the white area at the top (well worth the nine euros to ride to the top). To my way of thinking the view from San Marcos encompassing San Giorgio Maggiore with its bell tower, monastery, and church designed by the famous Italian architectural scholar, Andrea Palladio (below), is the most impressive view to be found in the city, which is no small accolade since there has long been a massive stone church for virtually every island in the city. San Giorgio's bell tower is just slightly shorter than its nearly identical twin across the channel. (This scene I have painted--bottom).

Copyright, Jim Lane
San Giorgio Maggiore, just a short canoe gondola ride across the
channel from San Marcos.
Looking back across the channel from the island of Maggiore, San Marcos and the heart of Venice is too cluttered with ten centuries of willy-nilly architecture to be considered attractive by photographers. Only the most talented artists can revive its latent beauty and lingering charm. This one, single, fact may well be what stuns and disappoints photographers most. I wouldn't call the city "ugly" (my wife has), but it's not the same Venice as Canaletto and his consummate crew of creative cohorts painted five hundred years ago.

Copyright, Jim Lane
Venice from Maggiore--overpriced sidewalk restaurants,
water taxis, billboards, and highly esteemed architecture.
Copyright, Jim Lane
The canal entrance to the
Hotel All' Angelo where we
stayed three nights. San
Marcos was five minutes
If the Venice that was and the Venice that is, seems somewhat unsettling, the interior of the Doge's Palace with its open-sky court-yard and monumental ceremonial steps more than makes up for it. In large part the same could be said for many of the other examples of Classic and Baroque arch-itectural landmarks within the city (but not the drab, dark, colorlessness of the Byzantine San Marcos Basilica). Again and again, as you click away with your virtually limitless digital cameras, you have the feeling of stepping back in time. It's only when you pay your hotel bill (left) that you realize, despite what you see, you're really still in the 21st-century.

Copyright, Jim Lane
The Porta della Carta, 1438–1442, Giovanni Bon and
Bartolomeo Bon. The grand stairway built to serve as
the ceremonial entrance to the building. It now presides
over the exit.


As the twelfth group in this series, like the others, these photos are available free of charge for use by painters as source material for their own work on an individual basis. Simply e-mail me with a request to do so at and indicate which photo you would like to use as well as your full name (no nicknames) and geographic location. If you have a website, include the URL. And please, when finished, e-mail me a photo of your painting. These images are not for publication as photos (except on a royalty basis) nor are they in the public domain.


Copyright, Jim Lane
Two gondoliers. In focusing on the monumental, don't
miss the local color

Copyright, Jim Lane
Intruder of the Seas, 2014, Jim Lane
(One of my most recent paintings and
the one, and only, painting of Venice.)


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