Edouard Manet, View in Venice-The Grand Canal, 1874, Oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 18 3/4 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection

Seeing Nature: Manet’s View in Venice-The Grand Canal

With less than a month left to experience Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, we’ll be posting essay excerpts from the exhibition catalog written by Portland Art Museum curators.

View in Venice-The Grand Canal, Edouard Manet
By Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

This canvas, as well as its companion piece, Venice—The Grand Canal (Blue Venice), now in the collections of the Shelburne Museum, Vermont—share a feeling of effortless spontaneity, but there is evidence that Manet struggled with the pictures. Fellow artist Charles Toché recalled watching Manet paint in Venice, noting, “To speak only of Blue Venice, I don’t know how many times Manet started it over again.” Indeed, careful viewers will notice pentimenti of the dome of the church, which was originally higher and to the right before the artist reworked the canvas. Despite the artist’s initial difficulties, this small picture retains the freshness of a quickly painted sketch and displays Manet’s bravura handling of the medium.