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Santa Maria della Salute, Venice

Date made: 1909

Artist: Nicholson, John Miller

Description: In this painting, John Miller Nicholson depicts the Santa Maria Della Salute – commonly known as the Salute – a Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica in the city of Venice, Italy. The ship in the foreground shows the Italian flag and is perhaps symbolic of the artist's passion for the sea and maritime interests.

John Miller Nicholson spent most of his life living and working in Douglas, obsessively recording the world and people around him with detailed sketches and later with a small hand held camera. He was entirely self-taught and spent a lifetime perfecting his art.

John Ruskin regarded Nicholson's works so highly that he purchased a number of pencil sketches at £5 each and gave them to art galleries in various parts of Britain for their permanent collections. In 1880 Ruskin wrote to Nicholson, firmly but constructively criticising his work.

He said, ' ... you are cramped and chilled by Isle of Manishness - you ought to take knapsack on shoulder - grey paper book - half a dozen colours and a bit of chalk - and so walk to Naples and back'.

In 1882 he followed his advice and travelled to Italy, intending to spend three months studying architecture and the Old Masters. But it was reported that he so disliked the country, that he returned six weeks later. He had, though, sketched profusely on his travels and back in the Island painted a number of large oils of Verona and Venice. The style of his work had become increasingly impressionistic, and a clear distinction can be seen between his pre and post-Italian pieces. He exhibited two of the oil paintings of Venice in London and demand for his pictures grew after they were highly praised by the critics. This adulation so embarrassed Nicholson, whose shyness increased with age, that he ceased exhibiting anywhere other than the Isle of Man. He continued to develop his impressionistic style for the rest of his career.

Measurements: artwork: 70 cm x 83 cm

Materials: oil on canvas

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1954-2501/008


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