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Lot 3230* - A206 19th Century Paintings - Friday, 22. September 2023, 04.00 PM


(1817 Feodosija 1900)
View of Venice with San Giorgio Maggiore and gondola. 1851.
Oil on canvas.
Signed in Cyrillic lower left and dated: Aivazovsky 1851.
99.5 × 142.5 cm.

- Private collection for several generations.
- Sale MacDougall's London, 25.11.2012, lot 28.
- Private collection.

Gianni Caffiero, Ivan Samarine: Light, Water and Sky. The Paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky, London 2012, pp. 100 f.

‘View of Venice with San Giorgio Maggiore and a Gondola’ by Ivan Aivazovsky is one of the most outstanding paintings in the artist’s oeuvre and is an exceptional example of the marine painter’s virtuosity. Already in 1847, the 30-year-old Aivazovsky was appointed professor of marine painting at the renowned Russian Academy of Arts in St Petersburg. The present work was created four years later, at a time when Aivazovsky had already advanced to become one of the most famous painters, not only in the Russian Tsarist Empire, but in all of Western Europe. International recognition led him on extensive journeys to all of Europe’s cultural centres, such as Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Paris and London. He spent long periods in Italy in particular, including Venice. The painting offered here not only bears witness to Aivazovsky’s stay in the Floating City, it also shows why he was held in such high esteem by the contemporary art public, his artist colleagues and the Tsar’s court alike.

The large-format painting shows a typical Venetian gondola in the foreground, in which a pair of lovers are gliding over the calm waters of the lagoon. Slightly offset in the background is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore with the Benedictine monastery of the same name. This masterfully reduced composition distinguishes the artwork offered here from classical city views of Venice and makes this painting enormously effective. Through his painterly focus on the monastery island and the gondola in the still waters, Aivazovsky is able to create a sense of calm and harmony that invites the viewer to contemplation. The colour gradient in the picture is also masterfully executed. Starting with the deep blue of the mirror-smooth water surface in the foreground, Aivazovsky creates a soft colour transition towards the sky, which ends in a pale pink via reddish hues. The horizon line between the water and the sky, which is only hinted at, allows the gondola and the monastery to float almost spherically in the picture; only the reflections of the architecture and the woman's hand dipped in the water recall their earthly anchorage.

This painting by Aivazovsky is completely devoted to the Romantic ideal. The graceful monastery bathed in evening light and the lovers in the gondola seem to be removed from the world; the virtuoso light-painting formulation of the evening scenery testifies to the painter’s great artistry and demonstrates beyond doubt why Aivazovsky was one of the most celebrated artists of the Romantic period.

CHF 1 000 000 / 1 500 000 | (€ 1 030 930 / 1 546 390)

Sold for CHF 1 049 000 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.