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Oil painting - A Man, Perhaps a Gondolier, Seen from Behind
  • A Man, Perhaps a Gondolier, Seen from Behind
    Carlevarijs, Luca, born 1663 - died 1730
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A Man, Perhaps a Gondolier, Seen from Behind

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Venice (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700-ca. 1710 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Carlevarijs, Luca, born 1663 - died 1730 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from the funds of Captain H. B. Murray's bequest.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 213

Physical description

Oil painting

Place of Origin

Venice (painted)


ca. 1700-ca. 1710 (painted)


Carlevarijs, Luca, born 1663 - died 1730 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 16.5 cm approx., Width: 8.8 cm approx.

Object history note

Purchased, 1938

Historical significance: Painter, engraver and architect, Luca Carlevarijs (1633-1730) has long been acknowledged as the first Italian painter of Venetian views. Although he worked in other genres, it is for his views of Venice that Carlevarijs is possibly best known. Following the death of his father, also an artist, Carlevarijs left his native Udine to live in Venice with his sister. He was soon discovered by the powerful Venetian Zenobio family who lived in the same quartiere or district as the young artist. It is believed that the artist travelled to Rome when he was young. In Rome he would have been exposed to the view paintings of one of the first masters of this genre Gaspare van Wittel. On his return to Venice Carlevarijs began to produce views of his adopted city. One of the seminal works was the artist’s volume of printed views titled: Le fabriche e vedute di Venezia disegnate poste in prospettiva et intagliate da Luca Carlevaris. Published in 1703, this book consists of 104 views of Venice. It was the most complete survey of the fabric of the city ever produced and served as a model for Venetian view painters throughout the 18th century. The work was highly influential with many later view painters, including Canaletto, borrowing from it for their own paintings. Perhaps due to his friendship with the Zenobio family, Carlevarijs enjoyed the patronage of many Venetian families. Other contemporary Venetian view painters such as Guardi and Canaletto painted mainly for the export market, making Carlevarijs’ role in Venetian society unusual. Following his Arrival of the 4th Earl of Manchester in Venice in 1707 (1707; Birmingham, Mus. & A.G.), many of Carlevarijs’ paintings combine grouping of figures against the backdrop of Venice in rich, colourful and dramatic compositions. In 1712 he was working in Conegliano and in 1714 he returned to Udine to work as architectural supervisor for the Cathedral. A portrait of the artist shows him with pair of dividers, suggesting that he had some form of mathematical training. His name appears on a list of confraternity of Venetian Painters in the years 1708-13, 1712, and 1726.

Here a man is shown from behind, resting his right foot on something which is not represented, whilst leaning forward. The tights, pantaloons and cap suggest this man is a gondolier. Figures in such dress occur frequently in or near boats in the artist's paintings. For example the figure in this sketch occurs in Piazza San Marco col Mercato (Lezzaroni collection, Rome); Piazza San Marco with charlatans; and The Molod with the Palazzo Ducale. In each of these paintings the leaning posture of this figure, combined with his position in the foreground, is used as a compositional tool to draw us into the painting. At the same time this informal stance brings variety to the groups of people, creating a naturalistic view of the different people in Venice. Carlevarijs' sketches also demonstrate his great influence on Canaletto, whose figures and their arrangement often show a marked debt to the older Master such as in Venice: The Feast Day of Saint Roch ca. 1735 (National Gallery, London, NG937).

Historical context note

This work is part of an album of fifty-three sketches by Carlevarijs which includes figures he appears to have painted in the open air in preparation for insertion into formal compositions. The figures and objects appear frequently and virtually without variations in his paintings between 1707 and 1726 and are closely related to his etchings of 1703 in Le fabriche e vedute di Venetia. Composed of 104 views of Venice, the etchings formed the most complete survey of the fabric of the city ever produced and served as a model for Venetian view painters throughout the 18th century. Carlevarijs' sketches reveal a particular attention to costume, highlighting Venetian style of dress which was highly regarded in fashionable circles throughout Europe from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The maritime republic imported raw materials from the Far East and exported finished products including highly desirable velvets and brocades. The taste for Venetian textiles persisted into the 18th century. In this period however, Venice's power was dwindling and her government corrupt. The city nevertheless sought to present a facade of a wealthy city peopled with bright and gregarious multitude engaged in pleasurable pursuits. As Carlevarijs stated in the dedication to Le fabriche, he intended his paintings to 'rendere più facile alla notitzia de Paesi stranieri le Venete Magnificenze' [render more clearly the magnificence of Venice to foreign countries]

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'A Man, Perhaps a Gondolier, Seen from Behind', Luca Carlevarijs, ca. 1700-ca. 1710

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 56-63, cat. no. 60 (P.26-1938 - P.78-1938)
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1938, London: Board of Education, 1939.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting


Paintings; Clothing


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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