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An Interior in Venice

John Singer Sargent American

Not on view

This conversation piece epitomizes the cultured expatriate world of Venetian society. In the lower right corner is Boston-born Daniel Sargent Curtis (1825–1908) and his wife, Ariana (1833–1922), the owners of the seventeenth-century Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal. Behind the older couple is their son Ralph Curtis (1854–1922) and his wife, Lisa (1871–1933). The palazzo was a popular gathering spot for the artistic community: Sargent was a frequent guest as were Claude Monet and poet Robert Browning. Henry James wrote The Wings of the Dove (1902) in the library.
Sargent conveys the dazzling effect of Venetian light shimmering off the canal as it defines the elaborate gilt decor and carvings, the ornate furnishings, and the sparkle of the glass chandelier. When Sargent completed the painting, he presented it to Ariana as a gift. She declined the unconventional portrait, citing her son’s casual pose and her own flushed cheeks as an affront to decorum.

An Interior in Venice, John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), Oil on canvas, American

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