de jonckheere old masters

Giuseppe Bernardino Bison

Four views of Venice: Regatta on the Grand Canal; Carnival on St. Mark’s Square; The bucentaur on the Riva Degli Schiavoni; The bucentaur at San Nicolò

Gouache on card: 28 x 41 cm


Like a sort of fleeting excursion to the heart of the Serenissima, Giuseppe-Bernardino Bison skilfully seizes the effervescence and frenzy that animated the city of Venice in the 18th century, in these four gouaches.

The exploration begins along the Grand Canal. In this bright and light view, the boats, adorned with gold, are preparing for a race. Several secondary vessels have been chartered for the occasion. A number of families are waiting excitedly for the race to begin. Curious onlookers have flocked to the windows of the facades, bedecked with brightly coloured drapes. The tour continues on Piazza San Marco. In this majestic and vibrant view, the crowd presses round a tightrope walker to watch the performance in front of the Doge’s Palace. It is the Carnival. Here, every tiny character has been drawn in minute detail and with great finesse. And the perspective, far from being disregarded, reinforces the grandiosity of the scene. In the distance, several masts stretch towards the azure blue sky. In the third view, the Venetians are crowding on the banks to admire the bucentaur. A monumental state vessel, the boat was used to celebrate the marriage of the Doge to the sea on Ascension Day. Accompanied by its cortege of golden boats, the bucentaur leaves the waterfront of the Riva Degli Schiavoni and slowly heads for the sea. The bucentaur returns to Venice and the journey ends at San Nicolò. Here, the soft blues of the sea and sky contrast with the boats’flaming standards.

A true journey through time, these four gouaches by Bison are a fine tribute to the Serenissima’s Golden Age and Age of Enlightenment. Mainly drawing inspiration from the engraved reproductions of his predecessors, such as Canaletto or Guardi, Bison combines accurate proportions and a sense of detail in his strongly-coloured works.

Provenance :
Private collection, Italy.

Littérature :
F. Pedrocco, Il Settecento a Venezia, i Vedutisti, Milano 2001;
G. Pavanello, A. Craievich, D. D'Anza. Giuseppe Bernardino Bison, Trieste 2012.