Charles Cottet, View of Venice from the Sea, 1896
Charles Cottet (1863-1925) was a French painter known for his seascapes and landscapes of Brittany. Cottet studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Puvis de Chavannes, as well as at the Académie Julian, where he became friends with the painters who would form Les Nabis (which Cottet was not a member of but was associated with). He traveled extensively, spending time in Egypt and Italy and on Lake Geneva to paint. However, he found his true inspiration on a trip to Brittany in 1896. He became known for his dark, evocative scenes of Brittany and exhibited in the Salon in 1899. Cottet's seascapes are rather unusual, giving a strong sense of the scope of the sea and invoking a strong mix of calm and power. This view of Venice is also rather unusual. There are strong elements of fantasy here, with the intense gold coloring and swirling clouds. Cottet makes Venice appear like a magical city beyond the shimmering water. There is also a somewhat sketch-like appearance to this piece, which adds to the fantasy, as though the scene is glimpsed through a dream. Cottet painted another similar version of the scene, with, perhaps, more realistic coloring, and more movement in the water. In the painting I have featured, the water appears glassy, a mirrored surface to reflect the boats and city. Everything is aglow in the bright light of sunset.