The Exciting Adventures of the Most Boring Man in the World, "My Lonely Nights in Venice", by Walter Dolphyn.
Chosen by Marie-Claire
I can’t think of a better time to need humour in our lives and Walter’s paintings always make me smile. I can’t keep my eyes off them!
They invoke wonder, of both his extraordinary talent and technique yet also because of the healthy dose of hilarity and irony he injects into each one.
Here we have a familiar figure, the Most Boring Man in the World, who features in many of Walter’s paintings. He is on his trip to Venice, riding in the gondola pondering his lonely night in the City of Water, all the while sharing it with the most fantastic and fantastical figures around. A vignette into the wonderful troupe of pieces that Walter has in his collection, that crowd his studio in the south of France: Wally from Where’s Wally, Star Wars’ Yoda peeking over the edge of the gondola, Henry VIII and of course, the Princess from Walter’s latest series, the Princess and the Frog, amongst others.
Every one of them assembled and arranged with such painstaking precision that a tangible tension is created as well as a sprinkling of subtle humour.
We need more of Walter’s paintings in our lives to brighten our days and realise that however boring life may seem now, there is always something to make us smile, if only we take the time to notice it.
Fish Market, Venice by Peter van Breda.
Chosen by Graham
What we wouldn’t all do to be shopping local from here!
When it opened on the edge of the Grand Canal in 1097 the Rialto fish market was a beacon for Venice and her flourishing maritime empire. The market is the soul of the city, it is a sign of life and Venice is all about seafood and the market is at the heart of it. Fishmongers and their families would rise at 3am and work 12 hours a day buying seafood from local fishermen and selling their produce at the market. Traditionally Venetian women would be lining up for the daily catch before they arrived. A bustling and busy place for a thousand years.
Peter has captured in his painting of the Pescheria all this spirit of the busy Rialto Fish market. He has counters full of fresh fish and the bright red awnings glint brightly in the morning sun against the decorated columns whose capitals are carved with fish and boats. It’s a real joy.
The present market structure is a neo-gothic porticoed building built in 1907, the design by Domenico Rupolo and Cesare Laurenti, which was intended to make the building look older. I am sure many of you who enjoy seafood will get as much pleasure from this painting as I do, even if it’s not your local fish market at the moment!
The Vegetable Market, by Auguste Bouvard.
Chosen by Emily
Celebrated for his captivating views of the Venetian canals, Bouvard possessed an undeniable talent for utilising light and atmospheric effects to portray the grandeur of the legendary city.
The Vegetable Market depicts a small corner of Venice, with the early morning activities of this thriving city. Bouvard captures the charm of Venice with the rustic market stall offering the fresh morning produce and the fresh linen hanging from the balcony above. Whilst we are still in lockdown and travel isn’t permitted, this painting provides a sense of escapism, and if I close my eyes, I can imagine a gentle breeze and the sound of the water lapping against the stone walls, with the smell of fresh bread wafting over from the market.
This artwork was painted circa 1925, almost one hundred years ago, but still Venice holds the same charm now as it did then. In fact, with the recent Covid lockdowns, without the cruise ships and hoards of people filing the street, the canals have had a chance to clear, and it has been reported that fish have been spotted in the usually murky waters.
This past year has made us all appreciate the luxury of travel and memories of past trips. Venice will certainly be on my travel list for this year. Which destination will be on yours?