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Creator:
Walter Richard Sickert, 1860–1942, British, born in Germany
Title:

L'Ospedale Civile, Venice

Date:
ca. 1901
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
26 x 18 1/2 inches (66 x 47 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Signed, lower left: "Sickert."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Copyright Undetermined
Accession Number:
B1987.26.2
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
architecture | boats | bridge (built work) | brushstrokes | canal | canopy | gondolas | imagination | island | Italian | relief sculpture | river | water
Associated Places:
Italy | San Michele | Veneto | Venezia | Venice
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5032
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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Sickert lived in Venice for several periods during the years 1895-1904, moved easily in the international artistic and literary society that flourished there, producing a large number of drawings, etchings, and paintings of Venetian subjects. He enjoyed the challenge of treating afresh the famous sights painted by such familiar masters as Canaletto and Turner-as well as by his former mentor Whistler-and brought to them a vision formed in part upon Monet's recent series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral under different conditions of light and atmosphere.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2008
Sickert lived in Venice for several periods during the years 1895-1904, moved easily in the international artistic and literary society that flourished there, and produced a large number of drawings, etchings, and paintings of Venetian subjects. He enjoyed the challenge of treating afresh the famous sights painted by such familiar masters as Canaletto and Turner-as well as by his former mentor Whistler-and brought to them a vision formed in part upon Monet's recent series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral under different conditions of light and atmosphere. Like Monet, he played variations on the theme of the elaborately decorated facade-most often that of St. Mark's, the Doge's Palace, or Santa Maria della Salute-and delighted in rendering the linear, intricate forms of his motif in the most summary and painterly of techniques. The result is more suggestive of memory or imagination than direct observation, depending as much on the richness of Sickert's brushwork and color in their own right as on the beauty of the places they describe.
The Ospedale Civile (city hospital) spans the north side of the Campo S.S. Giovanni e Paolo; the church of that name is on the east side, and the famous Colleoni monument in the center, making the square one of Venice's major tourist attractions. The Ospedale building dates from the later fifteenth century and was originally the Scuola di San Marco, headquarters of one of the city's powerful guild organizations; a statue of the lion of St. Mark dominates the upper part of the entrance bay of the facade. It became a hospital in the early nineteenth century and continues as such today. The facade retains much of its original lavish ornament, including trompe-l'œil reliefs at the first-floor level that create the illusion of arcaded openings into the building.
Sickert painted the Ospedale several times on his first visits to Venice in 1895-96, though in a horizontal format, with the viewpoint further to the left, and including the whole of the facade. The present work, showing the left four of the building's six bays, can be dated on stylistic grounds to a later visit, most likely that of January-July 1901. The view here is from the top of the Ponte Rosso, looking up the Rio dei Mendicanti and including the next bridge north, the Ponte Cavallo. The right edge of the canvas corresponds exactly to the corner of a canalside building that cuts off one's view of the Ospedale from this point. The light is that of late afternoon, with the sun playing brightly on the west side of the building and the facade in shadow. In the distance beyond the Ponte Cavallo are some buildings on the cemetery island of San Michele, which inspired Sickert to exhibit one of his paintings of this subject under the title From the Hospital to the Grave.
Though like a French Impressionist painting in its spontaneous-looking brushwork, L'Ospedale Civile was probably painted in the artist's studio-perhaps not even in Venice-rather than directly from the motif in true Impressionist fashion. Sickert was disdainful of the idea of a painting as the record of a given place at a given moment and valued highly the technical refinement and imaginative freedom that working in the studio fostered. Instead of on-the-spot observation he relied on sketches and recollections, sometimes on his own earlier paintings of the subject, sometimes on photographs. He owned a collection of photographs of Venetian sites, and-judging by the precise disposition of every element when compared to the actual view, along with the great accuracy of tone but not color-the present work may well have been photographically based.

Malcolm Warner



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Wendy Baron, Sickert : Paintings and Drawings, , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006, p..262, no. 162, NJ18 Si12 +B375 2006 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

British art of the twentieth century, 1st March-23rd March 1989, St. James Art Group ... , St. James Art Group, London, 1989, no. 27, DealerCat St. James Art Group (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 172, no. 70, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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