Fl. 1828 - London - 1864
The Church of the Salute, Venice
Signed and inscribed with the title on an old label attached to the reverse of the frame
Canvas: 36 1/8 x 56 1/8 in / 91.8 x 142.6 cm
Frost and Reed, London
In Pritchett’s grand sun-lit scene, Venice is truly the centre of trade and commerce bustling with life and the exchange of goods. The view depicts the mouth of the Grand Canal with the Dogana before the radiant domes of Santa Maria della Salute. The Dogana or Customs House stretches to the tip of the Dorsduro where arriving cargo ships from East and West would be inspected by customs officials. The original fourteenth century watch tower was replaced in 1690 by the present colonnaded building known as the Dogana di Mare or Sea Customs Post. The buttressed square tower is crowned by a gilded globe supported by a pair of bronze crouching Atlases, on top of which a statue of the Goddess Fortuna dances, acting as a weathervane holding her gilded sail to the wind.
The beautiful church of Santa Maria della Salute is one of the most celebrated churches in Venice. Following the devastating loss of nearly a third of the population from the plague in 1629, the Venetian Senate decided to build a church in 1630 dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the protector of the Republic. The church was completed in 1682 and its design reflects its dedication. The octagonal entrance echoes the shape of the Virgin’s crown, identifying her as Queen of Heaven and a statue of the Virgin as Capitana da mar, with her baton of office, crowns the lantern of the dome.
In The Companion Guide to Venice, Hugh Honour describes the magnificent structure and its importance, ‘If you come to Venice by sea – and any other approach is like entering a palace through the back door – the most prominent of the myriad architectural marvels that greet you is the church of Santa Maria della Salute. As if riding at anchor at the entrance to the Grand Canal, with its balloon-like dome weighed down by great baroque scrolls, this fabulous building dominates the scene even more than the Palazzo Ducale or San Giorgio Maggiore. It is the supreme masterpiece of the Venetian Baroque – and of its author Baldassare Longhena, one of the few Venetian architects whose personality is strong enough to glimmer through the mists of history. Contemporaries tell us that he was a short dapper man, always dressed in black, of quiet and gentle manners. He had the embarrassing habit of asking everyone he met their opinion of whatever work he then had in hand. But this apparent lack of self-assurance finds no echo in the magnificent extrovert and ebullient buildings he designed, least of all in Santa Maria della Salute’ (H. Honour,
The Companion Guide to Venice, Collins, London, 1990, p. 153).
Fl. 1828 - London - 1864
Edward Pritchett was primarily a painter of Venetian scenes, although he did occasionally exhibit English views. He worked in both oils and watercolours. Pritchett was one of many artists to be inspired by the atmosphere and life of Venice and his name has become almost synonymous with this city. As Julian Halsby in his Venice: The Artist’s Vision A Guide to American and British Painters: described Pritchett’s technique as ‘a lively and impressionistic handling’ (pp.70-1). Few painters have better captured the wonderful sunlight and vivacity of this carnival city. Pritchett exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1828-1849, the British Institute, the Society of British Artists, and the Suffolk Street Galleries.
The work of Pritchett is represented in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery in Dublin and the Manchester City Art Gallery.