The Palace of the Doges, c.1906 signed 'A Streeton' lower right oil on canvas 50.6 x 76.5cm (19 15/16 x 30 1/8in).
PROVENANCE Collection of the artist The Honorable William Lawrence Baillieu, Melbourne Lord Clive Baillieu, 1st Baron Baillieu, Melbourne Thence by descent Private collection, Melbourne
EXHIBITED Paintings by Arthur Streeton, Alpine Club Gallery, 23 Savile Row, London, 26th March 1909, cat. no. 40, 60 gns Arthur Streeton's Venice, Guild Hall, Melbourne, 13-27 July 1909, cat. no. 8 National Gallery of Victoria Loan Exhibition of Australian Paintings, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1925, cat. no. 28 (label attached verso)
LITERATURE Arthur Streeton, The Arthur Streeton Catalogue, Arthur Streeton, Melbourne, 1935, cat. no. 387, as 'Doges Palace'
"While I was on my way back here from my Australian tour (last autumn) my wife (Nora Clench) went with her quartet through France and Germany and had a good time of it. I returned to London a few days before Christmas and we were married on 11th January we are very comfortable in our new home up here and very very happy with each other. We are off to Venice to paint next week (for a month)...."1
So wrote Arthur Streeton to his dear friend Frederick Delmer on 22nd April 1908 on the eve of his Venetian honeymoon with his beloved wife, the celebrated violinist Nora Clench. The month spent in Venice, newly married and in love, produced a renowned group of works depicting the sights of the watery city, romantically referred to as La Serenissima, including this work, The Palace of the Doges. He had left success behind him in Australia in 1897, following the purchase of The Purple Noon's Transparent Might by the National Gallery of Victoria, and set sale for London, via Cairo. Yet, recognition and success did not come easily for Streeton until he met his Canadian wife-to be, Nora, whose connections and esprit de corps resulted in valuable commissions meaning he no longer had to wait until "the rusty old gate of London swings open." 2 In 1906 Streeton returned home and during the "Australian tour" he spoke of above, he painted feverishly and held two highly acclaimed exhibitions in Melbourne including Streeton's Sydney Sunshine Exhibition, all of which sold well, impressing collectors and critics alike. It was the success of his Australian sojourn, which gave him the capital and the confidence to marry Nora back in London in January 1908. Just prior to returning to London, Streeton visited another patron, William Lawrence Baillieu, who had commissioned him to paint a series of works depicting his hometown of Queenscliff, where his father had been lighthouse keeper before William went on to amass an extraordinary fortune as an auctioneer and property developer. In fact, it was W.L Baillieu who purchased The Palace of the Doges from either his London exhibition at the Alpine Club Gallery (cat. 40) or the slightly later Melbourne show, Arthur Streeton's Venice, held at the Guild Hall.
Upon his return home to St. John's Wood, Streeton wrote again of Venice to Frederick Delmer on 1 July 1908, "I did enjoy the place so much...I worked hard and did some good pieces...what a wonderful place it is." Later that year in October the newlyweds returned to Venice to continue on Streeton's Venetian scenes writing to Baldwin Spencer on 8 October 1908, "Here we are again in the fascinating old city. I have worked 2 afternoons lately in the centre of the Piazza San Marco...it is the heart of the city (and) always full of people so while Mrs S. sat some yards off on a seat of the 'Florian Café' reading 'Great Expectations' I sat surrounded by a great mob of about 40. It was extremely hot with so much humanity like a wall around me a wall 4 feet thick & all 98 temperature made me perspire. I've seen no one else tackle it here But I pulled it off...I've done several others also & shall work on these as soon as I get back to the Studio & I shall pick out a few to send to Melbourne for a trial." 3 In fact, Streeton's Venetian output was prodigious and in March 1909 he exhibited a solo show of La Serenissima scenes alongside English landscapes at the Alpine Club Gallery in Savile Row, London, the same year he was awarded the 3rd Class Medal at the Paris Old Salon for Australia Felix, 1907 (Art Gallery of South Australia). The Savile Row exhibition was well received by the London press and in July 1909 he opened Arthur Streeton's Venice at the Guild Hall in Melbourne.
1 Ann Galbally and Anna Gray, (eds), Letters from Smike The Letters of Arthur Streeton 1890 1943, Oxford University Press, Melbourne 1989, letter from Arthur Streeton to Frederick Delmer, 22nd April 1908, p. 112. 2 Mary Eagle, The Oil Paintings of Arthur Streeton in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1994, p. 123, quoting a letter from Streeton to Walter Barnett, Spring 1898 3 Letter from Streeton to Baldwin Spencer 8 October 1908, Op. Cit. Ann Galbally and Anna Gray, p. 114
Please note that the correct date should read circa 1908.