The city of Venice was a favorite subject for French artist Félix-François Georges Ziem. In this brilliant cityscape, the artist portrays one of the historic city’s many open-air markets, with merchants readying their wares as the sun rises upon a new day. Ziem’s paintings reflect the impact of the Barbizon artists and the group’s ideals of realism by using the contrast of light and shadow to bring his compositions to life.
Ziem originally planned to become an architect until “disciplinary” problems caused him to lose his scholarship to the Academie d’architecture of Dijon in 1841. Upon his dismissal, he decided to embark on a journey to Rome, on foot. It was during this time that his hobby of painting became his life’s work. He executed hundreds of sketches of the lands he came across, many times selling or trading them for food. No other city struck him as did Venice, with its network of waterways and outstanding architecture–he immediately fell in love. Ziem’s infatuation with the city would last throughout his career and would become the subject of his most desirable and striking paintings.
He would return to Venice again in 1845, this time spending three years sketching the city from nearly every possible angle. Ziem completed several paintings upon his return to France and submitted them to the 1849 Paris Salon with great success. He continued to exhibit at the Salon until 1868, then again from 1888 until his death. His work made him one of the most sought artists of his day, so much so that he was honored, in 1864, to have under his tutelage then Princess (later Queen) Victoria. In 1857, Ziem was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, rising to the rank of Officer in 1878.
Canvas: 36” high x 26 1/4” wide
Frame: 47 1/4” high x 37” wide
Artist’s Select Museums:
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Art Institute of Chicago