Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


GINO DE COLLE (Italian, active 1900)

The Grand Canal with a View of Palace Papadopoli Before the Rialto Bridge

signed G. de Colle in the lower right, and inscribed on the reverse Grand Canal with Papadopoli palace and Rialto’s bridge / by De Colle

watercolor and pencil on paper

8 ½ x 15 ½ inches          (21.5 x 39.3 cm.)


A. Genova, Venice


Although very little personal history is known about the watercolorist Gina de Colle what is telltale in his work is an overriding love for the city of Venice. His known period of activity has been established from a few dated works from around 1900. The scenes of the Grand Canal featuring Santa Maria della Salute and the Rialto Bridge were among his most favored views.

Working in a tradition that has its roots in the eighteenth century, De Colle’s sun-bathed and exquisitely detailed watercolors capture two of Venice’s main attractions at the start of the twentieth century. The Rialto Bridge, whose interior is filled with shops, has always been a popular spot. Until the middle of the nineteenth century it was the only bridge between the two sides of the Grand Canal. The bridge connects the Campo de San Bartolommeo to the Rialto quarter which was the old commercial center of Venice and still features open-air vegetable, fruit and fish markets. Built from 1588-91 by Antonio da Ponte it was designed so an armed galley could pass beneath. Da Ponte was awarded the commission to build the bridge against such competitors as Michelangelo, Sansovino and Palladio.[1]  The Palace Papadopoli is discernable in the center of the left side of the buildings that front the Grand Canal, distinguishable by the atypical two obelisk shaped pinnacles that are mounted on both front ends of its rooftop. It was built in the second half of the sixteenth century and in the eighteenth century the interior of the second floor was decorated by Giambattista Tiepolo. Unusual and adding a charming dimension to De Colle’s scene is the view through a series of gondola mooring poles along the right side of the composition.

Shown along the right side of a wide expanse of the Grand Canal, one of the cities main water-thoroughfares lined with ornate palazzos and buildings dating mainly from the thirteenth to eighteenth century, is Santa Maria della Salute.  In July 1630 Venice was devastated by the plague. Doge Nicolò Contarini and the Senate prayed for divine intervention, vowing to build a church dedicated to the Virgin if their prayers were answered. The church was to be consecrated to the Madonna della Salute, salute standing for both health and salvation. It was also to be a destination for a yearly procession to give thanks. In November 1631 the plague subsided and building commenced under the guidance of Baldassare Longhena. It was completed in 1687 and features a monumental interior built on an octagonal plan surmounted by a dome. It contains twelve paintings by Titian as well as Tintoretto’s Marriage at Cana. Each year around November 21st the Feast of the Purification takes place at the church and a floating bridge is placed on the Grand Canal to permit the faithful to cross on foot.[2]  On the other side of the canal the view begins with the Palazzo Cavalli–Franchetti. Built in 1565, its exterior was enhanced in the nineteenth century to conform to the Venetian Gothic style through a series of rich window treatments. To its left is a pair of adjoining palaces of different heights called the Palazzi Barbaro. The one next to the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti was built in 1425 in the Venetian Gothic style. The other was executed in the Baroque style and designed in 1694 by Antonio Gaspari.

The common denominator present in both these works is the dazzling sunlight which creates a kaleidoscope of colorful reflections on the surface of the shimmering water that forms the basis of Venice’s uniqueness. In all likelihood Gino de Colle’s watercolors were done for the export market and with such images as these he succeeds in capturing superb memories of beloved sights.



[1] Ewoud Mijnlieff “Michele Marieschi, The Rialto Bridge From the Riva del Vin” in Painters of Venice, The Story of the Venetian ‘Veduta’, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, December 15, 1990 – March 10, 1991, p. 175.

[2] Bram de Klerck, “Luca Carlevaris, The Bridge For the Feast of the Madonna della Salute”, p. 123 and Ewoud Mijnlieff, “Michele Marieschi, The Grand Canal near the Salute”, p. 173 in Painters of Venice, op.cit.. 

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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