Thomas Moran (American, born England, 1837–1926),
The Pearl of Venice
oil on canvas, 25 1/8 x 45 1/8 in.; 63.82 x 114.62 cm
Gift of Mary McArthur Holland, Betty McArthur Heller, and Mickey McArthur, 1982.6
Early in his career, Moran was exposed to the landscapes of Englishman J. M. W. Turner, whose ability to capture shimmering light with opalescent colors, yet retain topographical accuracy, made an impression on the young artist. Many of Turner’s techniques are evident here: luminous color and rich atmosphere lend a romantic allure to the Catholic basilica Santa Maria della Salute, the “Pearl of Venice” that rises on the shores of the Grand Canal. Moran portrayed Venice on many occasions, second only in number to his paintings of the Grand Canyon. He is best known for his imposing canvases of Western American scenery, the power of which helped persuade Congress to create the National Park system in 1916.