Venice – Portrait of a Lady

I came across a wonderful 19th century oil painting the other day and I just had to share it.

This painting is by Ludwig Passini (an Austrian artist who lived in Trieste and then Rome). The lady in the painting is his wife Anna Passini. She died less than two years after their marriage in 1866.

Here the lovely Anna Passini is relaxing in Venice, on the balcony of the Palazzo Priuli. By complete chance this palace is round the corner from the Church of San Zaccaria, one of my favourite churches in Venice. You can actually see the dome of San Zaccaria in the distance beyond the bridge.

The artist captures the Venetian architectural detail beautifully. Gothic arches inspired by the East (same style as the doge’s palace). On the left a typical Venetian chimney with a wide top – designed to direct dirty coal dust and smoke upwards and away from the houses, up into the sky, where winds would carry away the fumes and dust.

It’s probably springtime. The tree on the left of the canal is covered in light green, youthful foliage. The shutters of the building opposite are open, to let in light and air. The sky is slightly brooding, clouds are building, perhaps there is a hint of humidity in the air. Mrs Passini, seated on a red velvet cushion, enjoys the view.

Passini the artist was in the Palazzo Barbaro set, which included Isabella Gardner Stewart – a wealthy American ‘grand tourist’ (who built a house in Boston based on Palazzo Barbaro). The Palazzo Barbaro was built, on the Grand Canal in Venice, by the wealthy Barbaro brothers, Daniele and Marc Antonio. They also constructed a fabulous Palladian villa at Maser, in the Venetian countryside – Villa Barbaro which is one of the most exquisite and beautifully decorated of the Palladian villas. Interior frescoes by Veronese. By the 19th century the Barbaro family was defunct and much of their art and property was sold off. Curtis Sergent, an American and relative of the painter John Singer Sergent rented the palace and it became a focus of American ‘high society’ in the late 19th century. Visitors included Henry James, Whistler, Edith Wharton and ‘artist in residence’ Ludwig Passini. One of the most famous paintings associated with Palazzo Barbaro was a superb Tiepolo canvas, a glorification of the Barbaro family, that is now in The Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Magical memories of Venice!

Venezia - Palazzo Priuli - Anna Passini by artist Ludwig Passini
Venezia – Palazzo Priuli – Anna Passini by artist Ludwig Passini


Another evocative painting from Ludwig Passini – A Bridge in Venice (1876)
An earnest conversation – artist: Ludwig Passini – Dorotheum, Vienna

It’s interesting to compare the work of Passini with his contemporary – Carl Spitzweg who shows us that art can be beautiful and also make us laugh……Artist Carl Spitzweg shows that art can make you laugh…

  • Ludwig Passini lived from 1832-1903. Born in Vienna and died in Venice.
  • Carl Spitzweg was roughly his contemporary 1808-1885. Born in Germerling, Germany and died in Munich.
  • Stylistically I find them very similar.

The intercepted love letter – Carl Spitzweg – 1860s

For inspiration in art Venice is always the solution! Paintings, poetry, photography, film all inspired by Venice…..

Venice - Grand Tourist - Carnival goers 2020 - photo:
Venice – Grand Tourist – Carnival goers 2020 – photo:
  • Inspired by a painting: April 2021
  • Developed (slightly) July 2021

5 thoughts on “Venice – Portrait of a Lady

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