Details
EUGÈNE BOUDIN (1824-1898)
Venise, église San Giorgio
signed, dated and inscribed 'E. Boudin 95. Venise' (lower center) and dated again '25 Juin' (lower right)
oil on canvas
14 3/8 x 21 7/8 in. (36.5 x 55.5 cm.)
Painted on 25 June 1895
Provenance
Pearson collection, Paris.
Roger Sauerbach, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 11 March 1931, lot 22.
M. Wormser, Paris (acquired at the above sale, via Jos Hessel).
Private collection (by 1973).
Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 9 December 1987, lot 20.
Private collection, Switzerland (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1988, lot 9.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty at the above sale.
Literature
G. Jean-Aubry, Eugène Boudin, Neuchâtel, 1968, pp. 227 and 243 (illustrated, p. 227; titled Venise: l'île de San Giorgio).
R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Paris, 1973, vol. III, p. 316, no. 3441 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Schmit, Eugène Boudin, May 1965, p. 87, no. 114.

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Lot Essay

Boudin's visits to Venice represent a significant moment in his career, occupying the same relative importance in the 1890s as the Trouville beach pictures had in the 1860s.? The subject of Venice – from the 18th-century vedutisti, particularly with Canaletto and Francesco Guardi (the latter of whom Boudin had made copies after in the Louvre in the 1860s), through to William Turner and Félix Ziem in the 19th-century – exerted an enduring appeal on artists, art collectors and art lovers alike.
He was sixty-seven years old when he traveled to Venice for the first time in 1892. Invigorated by his success that year, with the French state purchasing one of his paintings at the Salon and his receipt of the prestigious Légion d'honneur, Boudin came to Italy in search of new light and motifs. Infatuated with the ancient city, he returned for a brief sojourn in June 1894 and again for a final and more prolonged stay in May 1895, where he would spend two months. During the latter visit, he produced seventy-five views of Venice, painting the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, the Canal Grande, the Palazzo Ducale, the islands of Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore, the Riva degli Schiavoni and the small canals.
His stay in Italy was exhilarating and challenging at the same time. While the warm climate encouraged him to work en plein air and the bright Venetian light and famous haze allowed him to indulge his skill with atmospheric effects, painting Venice was not without difficulty. In a letter to his friend Ebstein from May 1895 he wrote “I have begun to paint but have found it quite hard for different reasons, especially because of the architecture of the monuments which require meticulous attention…” (quoted in “La lumière du Sud, les derniers voyage,” Eugène Boudin, exh. cat., Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 2013, p. 210). Yet, the style of Boudin’s Venice paintings differs little from his treatment of the French coast: we find the same spontaneity, delicacy and a similar palette. In a letter to Paul Durand-Ruel from June 1895 he wrote “I am busy painting views of Venice, a superb town as I have no need to tell you, but somewhat disguised by the usual painters of the area, who to some extent disfigured it by making it appear as a region warmed by the hottest suns… Venice like all luminous regions is gray in color, the atmosphere is soft and misty and the sky is decked with clouds just like the skies over Normandy or Holland” (quoted in J. Selz, E. Boudin, New York, 1982, p. 86).
?Venise, église San Giorgio, the first of the two Boudin Venice pictures in the collection of Ann and Gordon Getty, is dated 25 June 1895, about 6 weeks after Boudin’s arrival in Venice. As its title indicates, it depicts the 16th-century Benedictine church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which sits on the Venetian island of the same name. Designed by Andrea Palladio and built between 1566 and 1610, the church is a basilica in the classical Renaissance style. Its white marble facades gleams above the blue water of the lagoon opposite the Piazzetta di San Marco on the Riva degli Schiavoni, where Boudin would have set up his easel. Venise, vue prise de San Giorgio, was painted on the island of San Giorgio itself and thus depicts a vista of the Riva degli Schiavoni, opposite the basilica.
These detailed views combine the perspective and topographical concerns of Canaletto with Boudin’s interest in atmospheric effects. In both paintings, Boudin captures the impact of the bright southern light and famous Venetian haze on its environment. A variety of pigments are used to represent the glistening light over the lagoon while the rich blue colors in the skies are punctuated by freely-applied wisps of fresh white paint. The marble whites, subtle greys, terracotta reds and earthy yellows coloring the venetian facades and roofs contribute to the luminosity of the paintings. In both cases, the lagoon is adorned with delicately rendered gondolas that bring dynamism to the compositions. Boudin also punctuates his scenes with touches of vivid color, such as bright reds, pinks, yellows and oranges, to suggest the gondolas' passengers and the varied materials of the building facades lining the waterway. It is not the splash of sunlight which enlivens these compositions, but rather the subtlety of the constantly changing atmosphere and the flickering iridescence of the water's surface, thanks to the artist’s brushwork and carefully selected palette.
Although Boudin’s trip to Italy had been publicized by his dealers in Paris and he was particularly fond of his highly anticipated Venetian vistas, he continued to work on them following his return to Paris and did not present them to the Salon until 1897, the last time he exhibited his work. His Venice paintings were very well received by collectors and fetched record prices at Boudin’s atelier sale after his death in 1899. During his last years, with his health deteriorating quickly, he would admit that his Venice pictures were his “swan song,” considering them the last most beautiful works he would produce in his lifetime.

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