Venice' - Russian impressionism museum

Venice', 1913

Boris Kustodiev

Oil on canvas
87.5X69

Boris Kustodiev went to Italy immediately after he had successfully defended his diploma thesis at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, where he had studied under Ilya Repin. He left for Europe with his young wife and newly born son - in the few months they spent abroad, they visited museums and accumulated a mass of impressions. However, his night landscape ‘Venice’ was made six years later, on his second journey, this time travelling alone. In a letter to his wife he wrote: “Venice is a city with which one could fall madly in love. Saint Mark’s Square and Cathedral on its own, the Doge’s Palace too - every time a whole range of new impressions. Venice is beautiful in the morning, in the daytime, and in the evening. Yesterday there was some big festival here, there were masses of people, ancient flags, gondolas with elegant gondoliers - they all passed the palace, and it sparkled in the sun!” Take a look at this painting featuring the night sky. It is painted with bold, free, dynamic brushstrokes, and brightly illuminated by the fireworks. The fire rises up first, before it falls into the water in a glitter of rain. Multi-coloured Chinese lanterns, the gondolas and the whole expanse of water – all is filled with the vibrating effects of different colours. We don’t see figures, instead we feel the visions of people - we see no boats, only flickering brushstrokes. This work was showcased at the Kustodiev’s posthumous exhibition in 1968 - the biggest exhibition of his work ever, held in the museum of the Academy of Fine Arts. At that time the painting was owned by a private collector, and after that show it was taken abroad. It was first exhibited in Russia only in 2013.