Venetian Passageway

John Singer Sargent American

Not on view

Sargent presents a view of a sotto portego, or passageway, from a canal. His interest in the geometry of the scene, with its numerous horizontal and vertical divisions, is apparent in the carefully ruled underdrawing visible at the left. The proximity of the building’s facade to the picture plane is underscored by the precise rendering of the bright white, carved spiral stone column at the left in contrast to the recession of the dark corridor. Sargent’s low vantage point and watery foreground suggests the experience of viewing the scene from a gondola on the canal, from which access to the city is limited. By leaving the illuminated area at the rear of the sotto portego ambiguous, Sargent evokes the tangle of streets and passageways so characteristic of Venice.

Venetian Passageway, John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on white wove paper, American

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