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William Stanley Haseltine: Sunset on the Grand Canal, Venice



Written by Allie Gloe, Curatorial Intern

William Stanley Haseltine (American, 1835 - 1900), Sunset on the Grand Canal, Venice, early 1870s, oil on canvas, 14 x 25 in., Gift of Helen Haseltine Plowden through the National Academy of Design, New York, AG.1961.7.1.

William Haseltine attended college in his hometown at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his degree from Harvard University. Following the year of his graduation, Haseltine traveled abroad to Germany to study at the Düsseldorf Academy with a concentration in landscape painting. The romantic aesthetic and emphasis on tranquility present in Haseltine’s landscapes are characteristics associated with the Hudson River School, which he was part of. Artists of the Hudson River School were American, Luminist, landscape painters who presented an idealized interpretation of nature.

Haseltine traveled to countries all over the world in order to paint these sublime scenes and frequently visited Venice. Sunset on the Grand Canal, Venice is a prime example of a picturesque scene where water and sky expand across the entire painting and create a sense of romance, serenity and grandness. Pink clouds settle on the horizon along with small, gliding boats and a thin shore, lined with the buildings of Venice. In the foreground small sandbars rise up from the water, and isolated wooden posts project a feeling of sweet independence from the busy city. Haseltine pays close attention to detail in the rendering of the ships and buildings, but loosens his brushstrokes as he paints the scene’s reflection on the water and the soft, hazy clouds that fill the sky at sunset.

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