The Sun of Venice


Hercules Brabazon Brabazon (British, 1821–1906)




Graphite and colored chalk on paper


9 7/8 x 14 3/4 inches


Gift of Hildegard and Clyde Ryals

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Born Hercules Brabazon Sharpe in Paris, he adopted the family name Brabazon in 1847 on the death of his brother. A wealthy man following a second inheritance in 1858, Brabazon was able to travel widely and to pursue a bachelor life devoted to art and music. A naturally gifted painter with little formal training, he was elected a member of the New English Art Club in 1891 and achieved late celebrity through a series of exhibitions from 1892 at the Goupil Gallery in Bond Street, London. The critic D.S. MacColl called him "the best water-colour painter we have had since Turner," and in this preferred medium Brabazon took forward the model of Turner's work into a personal kind of impressionism. This pastel is a re-creation or reminiscence of Turner's The Sun of Venice, a late oil exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1843 (Tate Britain, London). Its title refers to the name of a Venetian fishing boat emblazoned on the sail; here, the phrase also evokes the mystery of the Venetian lagoon, suggested with an economy of technique.

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