The Three Green Domes, San Simeone Piccolo

LL 3792


This watercolour was one of a group of Venetian views that the artist exhibited at his one-man show at Barbizon House in 1930, the results of his trip to Italy the previous two winters. Flint had first visited Venice on the return leg of his honeymoon in the winter of 1905. Other known visits were in 1963, 1964 and 1965. The small baroque church of San Simeone Piccolo, correctly San Simeone e Giuda Apostoli, with its prominent copper dome, lies on the north-west side of Grand Canal, almost opposite Venice's railway station. It was designed by Giovanni Scalfarotto (1690 - 1764) in a style indebted to Longhena, the architect of San Maria della Salute at the other end of the canal, and was built between 1718 and 1738. The church was in part modelled on the Pantheon in Rome. Although the church was painted by both Canaletto and Guardi, it was not particularly favoured as a subject by later artists. It is very unlikely that Flint ever saw Turner's 1840 watercolour of the church looking down the canal towards its northern end made in his 'Grand Canal and Giudecca' Sketchbook. Flint adopted an oblique view, an approach, often used by John Singer Sargent in his Venetian watercolours. His style is closer to that of Turner than of Sargent, but far more independent of the work of the early nineteenth-century painter than the watercolours of Hercules Brabazon Brabazon (1821 - 1906), the most productive English painter of Venice contemporary with Flint. In the foreground Flint introduced a milkwoman loading and unloading milk in an improbably spotless graceful white dress. She is similar in type to many he painted in his watercolours of Spanish and Provencal interiors. On at least one of his trips to Venice, Flint took photographs, but there is no evidence from the surviving prints that he made use of photography in preparation for this watercolour. However it is possible that he made pencil sketches, as the view to the church that he painted suggest that he may have conceived the subject while on a boat on the Grand Canal.