Robert Schmit will include this painting in his forthcoming third supplement to the Boudin catalogue raisonné.
The present work is exceptionally ambitious. Painted on Boudin's third journey to Venice in the summer of 1895 and recording the water-borne activity at the mouth of the Grand Canal from a vantage point beneath the Dogana di Mare looking towards the Riva degli Schiavoni, it is executed in the largest format Boudin ever used when treating a Venetian theme. Only two other examples of comparable dimensions are recorded in Robert Schmit's catalogue raisonné under numbers 3132 and 3403 (Paris, 1973).
This grand scale allows Boudin to indulge his skill with atmospheric effects - a low, broad horizon offering a great expanse of sky rising above the Riva degli Schiavoni. The rich blue colours, punctuated by freely-applied wisps of fresh white cloud and framed by the luminous earth colours of the quayside facades, present a prime example of Boudin's rendition of Southern light from the glorious Indian summer of his career.
Boudin's visits to Venice can be seen in many ways to mark the culmination of his career, occupying the same relative importance in the 1890s as the Trouville beach pictures had occupied in the 1860s. The subject of Venice - from the eighteenth-century vedutisti, particularly Canaletto and Guardi (the latter of whom Boudin made copies after in the Louvre in the late 1860s), through to Turner and Ziem in the nineteenth-century - exerted an enduring appeal on artists and art-lovers, and in tackling such a theme Boudin was asking to be measured against such luminaries.
Boudin's vision of the city featured the topographical concerns of Canaletto, coupled with the subtleties of atmosphere that distinguish the works of the nineteenth-century. The former quality allows one, reading the work from left to right, to identify the eastern section of the Ducal Palace at the left edge, neighboured by the darker, more squat facade of Antonio da Ponte's Prison, where Byron was said to have spent two days re-cutting the old graffiti carved into cell walls. Next, after a short interlude of undistinguished wooden buildings - as legend has it left in this slightly ramshackle state because they were the hiding place of the assassin of Doge Vitale Michiel I in 1102 - we come to the red facade of the Palazzo Dandolo, nestling beneath the white dome of San Giorgio dei Greci. The Dandolo, better known today as the Danieli Hotel, had been converted into a hotel in 1822, counting among its famous residents George Sand and Alfred de Musset, who arrived (if not departed) à deux, as well as a rather less licentious visitor in the person of John Ruskin working on The Stones of Venice.
Further along the Riva degli Schiavoni, and appearing in the present work just above the canopy of the central gondola, stands the imposing structure of the church of Santa Maria della Visitazione, or La Pietà, where Antonio Vivaldi was the violin master and concert master in the first half of the eighteenth-century. Then we come to a large ship, a steam-packet apparently flying Austrian colours, which may be the same vessel that features in a painting dated by Boudin to June 1895 (Schmit 3442). The waterfront then continues, heading towards the public gardens at the south-eastern edge of the city.
The present work was originally part of the major collection of Old Master and nineteenth-century pictures formed by the textile manufacturing Glen-Coats family in Scotland in the early years of the twentieth-century. It was sold at Christie's sixty years ago on the death of Winifred Glen-Coats Parsons, passing immediately into another significant British collection where it has remained until today.