William Meadows (1825-1901), British
LORD BYRON’S PALACE; CANAL RIALTO, VENICE
Pair of oils on canvas; each titled in pencil to the stretcher, the second indistinctly
20 x 30.25 in — 50.8 x 76.8 cm
Lord Byron lived in Venice from 1816-1819, and was enraptured by it. The city was, he wrote, ‘the greenest island of my imagination’, a place that had soon established itself as his ‘head, or rather my heart, quarters.’ His extended stay in the city was marked by spirited physicality - from four hour swims from the Lido to San Marco and up the Grand Canal, to myriad trysts and sexual liaisons. From 1818, he lived at the Palazzo Moncenigo, accompanied by 14 servants, two monkeys, a fox, and two mastiffs; it’s here that he composed the first songs of his masterwork, Don Juan. William Meadows here captures the poet’s home with the romance and bleary eyed sociality of its occupant: lit by the morning sun, the city is coming alive after a long, hectic night.
Private Collection, Toronto