Friday, May 6, 2011



On May 5, 2011, The Milton Historical Society organized a trip into DC from Milton, Delaware to see the Capitol Building and Eastern Market. I, instead, wanted to see the "VENICE: CANALETTO AND HIS RIVALS" exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, East Building, designed by the architect I. M. Pei. 

Robert had told me about this exhibit several weeks ago and I had become acutely interested, especially while doing my blog on Venice.

Upon entering the building. I noticed something fantastic. One large stone area had incised a description of the building and its builders. Only the name of architect I. M. Pei,
I. M. Pei on the cover of Time Magazine.
was rubbed to a sheen...

  ---an honorarium!

Venice inspired a school of competitive view painters whose achievements are among the most brilliant in 18th Century art. The exhibition celebrated the rich variety of these Venetian views, known as vedute, through some 20 masterworks by Canaletto and more than 30 by his rivals, including Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi and Bernardo Bellotto. Responding to an art market fueled largely by the Grand Tour, these gifted painters depicted the famous monuments and vistas of Venice in different moods and seasons for the wealthy tourists to send home. Oh! There must've been 65 paintings. Many quite large, say 5' x 3'. Canaletto is the most famous but several others competed with him for the Grand Tour traffic. One famous English baron had 36 Canalettos shipped to his country home, where they are today.

The Square of Saint Mark's, Venice, 1742/1744
Gift of Mrs. Barbara Hutton to The National Gallery of Art, DC.

The Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, 1725

I snuck this picture. I wanted to take many more, but the guards wouldn't allow it.

At the entrance to the exhibit, workmen we restoring the exterior. I couldn't help but take a picture of this pastiche.

Also at the entrance of the exhibit was an huge gondola!

This gondola is a rare 19th Century survival. When the American artist Thomas Moran stayed in Venice in 1890, he hired it for his personal use and brought it back with him to his residence on Long Island, New York. He enjoyed telling friends that the gondola had once been owned by the poets Robert and Elizabeth Browning, but the story cannot be corroborated.

The gondola (c. 1850) is on loan from the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia. It was a gift of the Thomas Moran Collection, East Hampton Free Library, East Hampton, Long Island, New York.

I bought the catalog/book:
View painting in 18th Century Venice began with the emergence of Luca Carlevarijs and ended with the death of Francesco Guardi in 1793, followed by Napoleon’s invasion and the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797. In between, a constellation of remarkable painters captured the city in dazzling pictures that are among the greatest achievements in 18th-century art. Canaletto may be the artist popularly associated with Venice, but he had many rivals who competed for commissions, often from foreigners whose patronage was to determine the later course of Venetian view painting. All the major figures are represented here— Bellotto, Carlevarijs, Guardi, Joli, Marieschi, and Vanvitelli—together with fascinating contemporaries such as Cimaroli and Tironi.

The exhibit runs through May.


Then I went to my office where I used to work as an architect for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Their offices have expanded greatly. They now have 10 architects and an entire engineering staff. When I worked there, 20 years ago, we only had three architects, me being one. It was great seeing people I knew from my prison days. I was amazed how they had aged and then I realized well, Don, you've aged, too!

All-in-all a delightful trip.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog, Don! It was fun to see youJ


Melinda Linderer Huff
Executive Director
Milton Historical Society

Don Voth said...

Thanks Melinda. Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you was great to see you and good to meet Robert....i think Scott was touched that you dropped by....!!!, Keith

Don Voth said...

Keith, It was good to see you too.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Don, i just viewed it again, this time with I. M. Pei's pic. etc....., Keith

Don Voth said...

Keith, From one architect to another...Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I enjoyed reading it, Marilyn

Don Voth said...

Marilyn, Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Don, You will really enjoy this book. It's all about Venice...

John Berendt
"The City of Fallen Angels"

Don Voth said...

Keith, I will get it.

Caliban said...

It was a truly delightful time we had and a pleasure to meet Keith. We all had lunch together at a garden cafe serving Italian cuisine in the west wing.

It was my second visit and even more interesting to view the second time around, with the added benefit of sharing and exchange comments on various paintings.

Don and I were both fascinated by two almost identical paintings of a single scene, one by Canaletto and one by Belloto -- hanging side by side.

Don Voth said...

Keith said the same about you. Yes. it was neat to "view" the "View Paintings" with you. That always makes it more interesting and fun.

The Canaletto one was my favorite: his paintings are MORE precise and dramatic.

Anonymous said...

Don, I don't usually read blogs, but this one on Canaletto was GREAT! You do have a knack. Let me know when you have a special one that you think i'll enjoy, STEVE

Don Voth said...

Steve, Thank you. It's always rewarding when someone enjoys my rantings.