Painted between the 17th and the 20th of December 1902, Venise, L’Ancienne Douane et le Grand Canal followed Vallotton’s discovery of the City of the Doges in 1890. In his travel note books he wrote “As for the rest, it is not this beauty that I expected, it is another much preferable one, to make a Venice of a similar chic, there we are. Grey green water, pale pink, yellow or white houses a lot of square roofed arches” (Vallotton, travel notebooks, extract).
Viewed from the steps of the basilica Santa Maria Della Salute, Venise, L’Ancienne Douane et le Grand Canal is a canvas adorned with a diffused neoclassicism. In the upper half of the work, there are tender chromatic tones similar to the admirable depictions of the Grand Tour by Corot. In the lower part, in addition to the audacious framing, the graphic motifs of the marble pavement of the Maritime Customs house create a powerful structuring element reminiscent of the strength of Vallotton’s beautiful etchings.
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