Sutherland first visited Venice in 1950 and returned for two or three weeks almost every summer for the rest of his life. The present view, one of a relatively small group of paintings inspired by Venice, shows a heron by a water-gate, at the entrance to an abandoned shed for gondolas. The bird is shown in a realistic, life-like setting, a new development for the artist.
Douglas Cooper comments on the Dark Entrance paintings as being examples of Sutherland's fascination with 'secret' or hidden places, a theme which was already latent in his paintings of the early 1920s and had assumed an explicit and emotional form by the late 1950s (see D. Cooper, The Work of Graham Sutherland, London, 1961, p. 19).
A larger painting with the same title was exhibited at Rosenbergs in New York in November 1959. Kenneth Clark wrote on 14 November, 'I am back from New York and saw your pictures at Rosenbergs, and they looked magnificent. Everyone who had seen them was enthusiastic, including Duncan Phillips, who showed signs of buying the melancholy bird'. This Dark Entrance duly entered, and is still in, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.