Ziem, Felix

Felix Ziem (French, 1821-1911)
Le Bassin de Saint Marc, Bateaux de Peche, Venise
Oil on panel, 17 x 26 inches (43 x 66 cm)
Signed lower left: Ziem
28 x 35 ½ inches framed.

Vente, Cahan, Petit, May 24th, 1929, No. 87, Paris
Private Collection, New Jersey
Private collection: Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Anne-Burdin Hellebranth, Ziem: Catalogue Raisonne, Paris, 1998.
Tome I, Page 45, No. 113, (illustrated)

The French painter Félix Ziem was an avid traveler throughout his life. He spent several months each year from 1842 until 1892 in Venice, painting hundreds of canvases. Ziem was moody and mercurial by nature, and such characteristics extended to his art. As is apparent in the quick and bold brushwork of this particular painting, he often painted very rapidly. Other canvases, however, were often more tightly constructed. Regardless of the brushwork, Ziem masterfully captured the atmospheric qualities of this grand city. To execute this painting, Ziem most likely situated himself on the banks of the Grand Canal, in front of the Campo San Giorgio, so as to have a clear view of the Bacino San Marco. From this vantage point, one can see the Piazza San Marco, the Palace Ducale and the Basilica San Marco. Ziem was one of the most prolific painters of his time, and his Venice scenes were his most sought after subjects.

Born in 1821 in Beaune to a Croatian father and a French mother, Ziem initially studied architecture in Dijon. Known for having a boisterous character, he was expelled in 1938 for unruly behavior. In 1939 he left for Marseille, where he was the Clerk of Works on the construction of the Marseille Canal. That same year, Ferdinand Philippe, the Duc d’Orleans, noticed Ziem’s watercolors. The Duke purchased two and commissioned the artist for a further six. This event began Ziem’s career as a professional artist.

As an artist, Ziem became an avid traveler in search of beautiful subjects, favoring areas with unique atmospheric qualities. He owned homes in Venice, Martiques, Nice and Paris. In 1844 he traveled to Greece, Turkey and Russia, and would later travel through Belgium, Holland, England, Egypt, Hungary and Algeria. Beginning in 1849, Ziem was actively exhibited in the Paris Salons throughout his career.

Works by Félix Ziem can be found in numerous public and private collections throughout the world, including institutions in Ajaccio, Amsterdam, Avignon, Bordeaux, Chantilly, Digne, Dijon, London, Montpellier, Montreal, Moscow, Mulhouse, Nantes, and Paris.