Venice: Real and Imagined

"Venice: Real and Imagined" explores how a truly unique city has enthralled artists, while its otherworldly character has driven many to re-create its seemingly impossible beauty.
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William Wyld (British, 1806-1889), Doge's Palace and Winged Lion of Saint Mark, 1835.

William Wyld (British, 1806-1889), Doge's Palace and Winged Lion of Saint Mark, 1835. Watercolor, Gilbert Davis Collection, 59.55.1476.

James Holland (British, 1800-1870), Venice, Punta della Dogana, 1864.

James Holland (British, 1800-1870), Venice, Punta della Dogana, 1864. Watercolor over pencil, 60.9.

Mutual Label & Lith. Co. (American, 1899-1906), Rialto Brand Citrus Crate Label, 1900-1906.

Mutual Label & Lith. Co. (American, 1899-1906), Rialto Brand Citrus Crate Label, 1900-1906. Lithograph, The Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History, ephJLC_CIT_000609.

Unknown Photographer, Gondola, Lagoon, and Midway Plaisance in "Venice of America," ca. 1906-1910.

Unknown Photographer, Gondola, Lagoon, and Midway Plaisance in "Venice of America," ca. 1906-1910. Photograph, Pacific Electric Railway Company Photographs, photo91#301.

Abbot Kinney Co. Map of "Venice of America", ca. 1911

Abbot Kinney Co. Map of "Venice of America", ca. 1911, RB262841.

For centuries, Venice has captured the imaginations of artists, writers, and travelers from around the globe. Composed of more than 100 tiny islands and 400 bridges, the city is unlike anywhere else in the world. It was founded in the sixth century by refugees fleeing Germanic tribes who had invaded the Italian peninsula. With buildings constructed on wood pilings driven into mudflats, it is a marvel of engineering. From these swampy beginnings, it grew into a vast trading empire that stretched throughout the Adriatic and Aegean Seas and into mainland Italy. Positioned at the threshold of East and West, Venetian art and architecture flourished as it combined elements of Ottoman and Byzantine visual culture with Italian traditions.

"Venice: Real and Imagined" explores how a truly unique city has enthralled artists, while its otherworldly character has driven many to re-create its seemingly impossible beauty. The exhibition features watercolors and etchings of Venice, Italy, as well as lithographs, photographs, and ephemera that illustrate how the idea of Venice has been incorporated into broader aspects of culture. In particular, the exhibition addresses "Venice of America," a Southern California community founded in 1905 by the tobacco magnate and real estate developer, Abbot Kinney.

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