John Singer Sargent - San Giuseppe di Castello, Venice, about 1903

John Singer Sargent (Florence, 1856 - 1925, London)

San Giuseppe di Castello, Venice, about 1903

Watercolor on paper, 30.6 x 45.8 cm (12 1/16 x 18 1/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Engagement gift from John Singer Sargent to Helen Henschel (1882–1973), professional singer, and the artist Wolfram Onslow Ford (b. about 1881) in 1904.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner at auction from Anderson Galleries, New York on 6 February 1920 for $3,500, through American artist Louis Kronberg (1872–1965).


Inscribed and signed in ink (lower left): To Helen Henschel and Wolfram Onslow Ford / John S. Sargent
Inscribed in pencil (verso): 5114; ivory; and an indescipherable inscription

Dimension Notes

Frame: 55 x 70 cm (21 5/8 x 27 9/16 in.)


Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 29. (as "Ponte San Trovaso, Venice")
David McKibbin. "Sargent's Water-Colours of Venice at Fenway Court." Fenway Court (1970), pp. 19-25, fig 4.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 229-30.
Elizabeth Anne McCauley et al. Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2004), pp. 257-58, fig. 204.

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The different shades of the water, the brightness of the light and the dense urban architecture of Venice were elements that fascinated Sargent throughout his life. In this drawing, he turns a rather unspectacular neighborhood into a miraculous metaphor for the romantic appeal of Venice. His passion for the city apparently did not extend to its inhabitants: note, how little interest he showed in depicting the figures on the bridge.

Source: Oliver Tostmann and Anne-Marie Eze, The Inscrutable Eye: Watercolors by John Singer Sargent in Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Collection, exhibition on view in the Museum's Fenway Gallery, October 31, 2013–January 20, 2014.