Son of the acclaimed painter Giovanni Battista Santoro, Rubens Santoro was an excellent student with an innate gift, learning swiftly how to render scenes of architecture, landscape, and water with great skill while he was a student at the Accademia in Naples. Though his training at the Accademia was formal, Santoro found his calling in painting scenes al fresco. This, combined with the artist’s interest in architecture and the effects of light on water, made Venice an ideal subject for him. Although Santoro would experiment with other subject matter in his career, the romantic atmosphere, beautiful architecture and rich palette of Venice called him back to depictions of La Serenissima throughout his life as a painter.
This view of the Scuola Grande di San Marco and the Ponte Cavallo over the the Rio dei Mendicanti is a tour-de-force demonstration of Santoro’s understanding of light, color, and perspective. The façade of the Scuola Grande di San Marco features delicately decorated niches and pilasters with marble statues, which have all been rendered by the artist in intricate detail. The warm light reflecting off the buildings, contrasted against the rich blue of the sky captures the city’s vibrant palette, while the relaxed gondolier and suggestion of gentle movement in the water in the foreground expresses the serenity of a quiet afternoon spent on a Venetian canal.