Water Carriers, Venice

Media - 1943.11.1 - SAAM-1943.11.1_1 - 67374
Copied Frank Duveneck, Water Carriers, Venice, 1884, oil on canvas, 48 3873 18 in. (122.8185.7 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Reverend F. Ward Denys, 1943.11.1
Free to use

Artwork Details

Water Carriers, Venice
Not on view
48 3873 18 in. (122.8185.7 cm.)
Credit Line
Bequest of Reverend F. Ward Denys
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Waterscape — canal — Grand Canal
  • Occupation — domestic — water carrier
  • Architecture — bridge
  • Cityscape — Italy — Venice
  • Figure group
Object Number

Artwork Description

Welcome to modern Venice, a living city where local fishermen and families proudly perform their everyday chores, like fetching fresh water from communal cisterns, against a magnificent maritime backdrop. You stand on the Riva degli Schiavoni, the waterfront promenade adjacent to St. Mark's Basilica, the Ducal Palace, and other renowned attractions, but this is not a pristine, souvenir-style view of famous monuments. It recognizes instead the economic reality of Italy in the late nineteenth century, when the newly self-governing nation was in the midst of a dramatic transformation to greater economic productivity. The dragging shoulder of the young girl on the far right signals the contributions of all ages to this recovery and growth. These children are dreamers and workers, poised to restore Venice's leadership in trade, manufacturing, and the visual arts.

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano, 2021.