Thomas Shotter Boys (1803-1874)
View in Venice

Signed lower right: T. Boys
Watercolour heightened with bodycolour and stopping out
25.8 by 19.3cm., 10 by 7 ½ in.

This is a view looking from near the traghetto stop of Santa Maria del Giglio at the entrance to the Grand Canal looking east towards the Arsenale. Boys never visited Venice and this is based on a watercolour by his close friend Richard Parkes Bonington (1801-1828) of this view (see Patrick Noon
, Richard Parkes Bonington - the Complete Paintings, Yale 2008, no.252, p.317, ill.). Bonington and Boys were close friends until the tragic early death of the former in 1828. In May 1826 Bonington took a studio at 11 Rue des Martyrs in Paris, where he remained in February 1828, and Boys lived three streets away on Rue de la Rochefoucauld. In 1826, Bonington visited Venice with Baron Rivet and on his return we know that he invited Boys to his studio for dinner: `Dear Boys,/ Try and come this evening Rivet and a few friends will be here..... votre ami/Bonington' (letter in La Bibliothèque d'Art et d'Archéologie, Paris). A drawing by Boys in the British Museum dated 1827 (see Noon, op. cit., p.44, ill.) shows the interior of Bonington's studio at this period with two views of Venice prominently visible.

A cruder version of this view by Boys, dated 1829, was with Sotheby's in March 2004 and the higher quality of the present watercolour suggests it dates from the early 1830s. It is tempting to suggest that it may be the watercolour entitled `Vue de Venise' exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1833 as no.273.