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The Gate of Venice / Thomas Moran

Essay/Description

Thomas Moran’s images of Venice owe much to the work of the British artist J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). Turner’s depictions of the city were not created with topographical accuracy; rather, he attempted to portray Venice’s ethereal quality.1 Over the course of his career, Moran developed a similar artistic temperament as he strove to capture his own creative response to the setting, rather than depicting it with photographic precision. For this etched work, The Gate of Venice, Moran found inspiration not only in the sketches of the city he created during his visit in 1886 but also in works by Turner such as Venice from the Giudecca (1840, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, FA.208[O]).2

Following the compositional example of Turner, Moran foregrounds a few of the boats that plied the canals, and he adds a slice of quay jutting out in the lower right quadrant. The viewer can enter Moran’s etching via the dock and step into one of the waiting gondolas. As we travel back into the lagoon, gazing to the right, our eyes follow the majestic lines of the Doge’s Palace and move along to St. Mark’s Campanile. Construction of the Doge’s Palace began in the fourteenth century, in the Venetian Gothic style, and the building served as the residence of the doge, the supreme authority in the Republic of Venice. The five domes of St. Mark’s Church peek out from behind the ducal palace. Built in the Italian Byzantine style, St. Mark’s dates to the late eleventh century. Although it cannot be seen in the etching, St. Mark’s Square separates the church from the Doge’s Palace. To our left, across the Grand Canal, we see the church of Santa Maria Salute, often referred to as the Salute. Built in the seventeenth century, the church has distinctive double domes and a pair of bell towers that rise in stately splendor above the small finger of land that separates the Grand Canal from the Canal Giudecca.3

—Sandra Pauly, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Moran Collection Research, 2021

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1 Hirshler, “‘Gondola Days,’” 117–18.
2 Hults, “Thomas Moran and the Landscape Print,” 33, for a discussion of the larger etching 1426.446.
3 Hirshler, “‘Gondola Days,’” 120, 124, and her catalogue entry 123, “Thomas Moran, The Fisherman’s Wedding,” 419–20.

Gallery Label

The original picture was painted in 1886, when the artist visited the City of the Sea, and attracted universal attention to the Academy of Design, where it was first exhibited.

Curatorial Remarks

Small plate version of the larger etched work 14.446a-e. Sandra Pauly 3.15.22

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Title(s): 
The Gate of Venice
Creator(s): 
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Culture: 
American
Date: 
1888
Period: 
Hudson River School
Materials/Techniques: 
printing ink on paper
Edition: 
3/20
State/Proof: 
2nd of 8 states
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of Alice Walton
Accession No: 
14.445
Previous Number(s): 
2015.06.30; 1426.445; 21994
Department: 
Signed in plate with colophon, "TM" in lower left on recto; Signed by hand in pencil, "T.Moran." in lower left on recto; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "GMP48 79.1" in lower left on verso; T. Moran, in pencil.
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