Santa Maria della Salute
In 1908 Monet and his wife Alice were invited to the Palazzo-Barbaro by the owner Mrs. Daniel Curtis, whose late husband was a friend of John Singer Sergeant, a friend and contemporary of Monet. It was on the steps of the Palazzo-Barbaro, located North-East across the Grand Canal, that Monet painted a series of the Santa Maria della Salute.1 There are six paintings of the Santa Maria della Salute, all but one (figure 2) are titled The Grand Canal. This series is the most methodical of his paintings of Venice, almost all of them are 73 x 92 cm, the motifs are identical and each was painted at the same time in the afternoon.2
Monet was drawn to the facade of the Santa Maria della Salute as it was reflected in the water and each painting is different despite the similar conditions. In the views at left, Monet depicts the changes in the tides with some having been painted showing the steps of the Palazzo Barbaro and others without. This was done deliberately to emphasize as well that he is painting a seascape and not fresh water. Monet also wanted to depict the changes in the "haze" of Venice, which he considered the essential quality to the atmosphere similar to the fog in London that he painted in 1903. There are two sets in this series, divided by the effects of the haze. In the first set (figures 1-3) the haze raises the luminosity of the work, however in the second set (figures 4-6) it subdues the colors of the prism and the paintings are more harmonious as well as monotonous. In the Bernheim-Jeune exhibition of 1912, Monet chose to hang these paintings by balancing each canavas from set one with one from set two.3
1Wildenstein, Daniel. Monet: Or the Triumph of Impressionism (Germany: Taschen, 1996), 386.
2Pissarro, Joachim. Monet and the Mediterranean (New York: Rizzoli, 1997), 146.
3Pissarro, Monet on the Mediterranean, 146.