Venetian Scene

Venetian Scene, about 1860 -1870
Henry Selous (1811-1890)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 01956
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Venetian Scene

This view of Venice looks down the Grand Canal with Santa Maria della Salute on the right-hand side. In the 18th century, fashionable and wealthy British families sent their sons on the Grand Tour to see the art, history and culture of Italy. The growth of these Tours, from the 1700s and the development of tourism for the middle classes in the 19th century generated a market for paintings as reminders of people’s Italian and European adventures.

Selous was a successful London painter, illustrator and lithographer. His father Gideon George Slous was a well-known Flemish painter of portraits and miniatures, so Selous came into contact with art at an early age. He entered the Royal Academy Schools aged 14 years where he won several medals. His early works were exhibited under the name ‘Slous’, but later he adopted the name ‘Selous’, the family’s original name and to avoid confusion with his father.

He painted views of Venice, Switzerland, England and the Rhine, historical scenes, contemporary events and illustrations for Shakespearean tragedies. He made his reputation with his illustrations for Cassell’s Illustrated Shakespeare in 1864-8.

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