Roberts made his only visit to Venice in 1851, where he stayed for five weeks from late September to October. He was captivated by the floating city, writing to his son-in-law that he was ‘at work from 9 o’clock until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.’1
The present work is one of several known ‘on the spot’ drawings that Roberts made of the exterior and interior of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
, a Dominican church which houses the tombs of many Doges and is considered to be one of Venice's most important religious buildings. Long after Roberts had left Italy, this church continued to occupy his mind and he exhibited an oil painting of this splendid interior at the Royal Academy in 18582
(Manchester City Art Galleries), as well as painting at least two oil versions in 1861.
We are grateful to Krystyna Matyjaskiewicz for her help when cataloguing this work.
1. K. Sim, David Roberts RA 1796-1864, A Biography, London 1984, p. 263
2. A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, vol. VI, London 1906, p. 318