‘View of the Piazza San Giovanni e Paolo’, by James Holland
About the artwork
The British artist, James Holland (1800-1870) started out as a decorative china painter in the 1820s and then developed during the 1840s into one of the most prolific painters of popular Venetian views. His pictures were bought by prosperous middle-class people; the same sort of people who, once the railway was built to Venice in 1844, were able to travel quickly, comfortably and comparatively inexpensively to take holidays in the city. The Lady Lever Art Gallery has five of Holland’s characteristic Venetian paintings. They are mostly small and this view is probably the best of them.
The picture shows the small square that after Piazza San Marco is the most important in Venice. The view is towards the 13th century gothic facade of the large Dominican church of San Giovanni e Paolo-the so-called “Pantheon of the Doges”. From the foreground canal side of the Rio de Mendicanti the funeral procession of every Doge of Venice from the 15th century onwards disembarked and made its way on foot across the square and into the church for requiem mass. The tombs of 25 Doges are inside, just outside the church walls.
Free gallery talks by Frank Milner on Thursday 8 and Thursday 22 June, 1pm.