Venice, Bridge of Sighs

Artist: Mikhail Vrubel
Date: 1892–93
Media: Watercolours on cardboard
Dimensions: 25.7 x 12.6 cm
Ownership: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Ilya Ostroukhov, Moscow; Ostroukhov Museum, Moscow (until 1929)
Style: Impressionism
Mikhail Vrubel, Venice, Bridge of Sighs, 1892–93


The Bridge of Sighs (Italian: Ponte dei Sospiri) crosses the Rio di Palazzo in Venice. Built by Antonio Contino in 1602, this enclosed passageway connected the court rooms in the Doge’s Palace with the nearby prison. The bridge is named after the unhappy sighs uttered by the prisoners, as they took their last look at Venice when being escorted to the cells following sentencing.

This watercolour was possibly employed by Mikhail Vrubel when working on his panel Venice (1893, Russian Museum, St Petersburg) and may have been painted from a photograph or a picture postcard. Nikolai Prakhov recalled: “In my presence, Mikhail Alexandrovich composed a study for a decorative panel on the theme of ‘Venice’, employing a photograph of the corner of the Doge’s Palace, the steps, the railings of the bridge across the narrow canal, and the bridge of sighs thrown across it in on high and at a slight distance.”

Literature: Gosudarstvennaya Tret’yakovskaya galereya. Risunok i akvarel’: V. D. Polenov, I. I. Levitan, V. A. Serov, M. V.Vrubel’, Moscow, 1956, p. 203 (dated “1890s”); Gosudarstvennaya Tret’yakovskaya galereya. Katalog sobraniya. Risunok XIX veka, Vol. 2, Book 1 (A-B), Moscow, 2007, pp. 427, 428, No. 2898; Vystavka risunka, akvareli, pasteli i guashi kontsa XIX – nachala XX veka iz sobraniya Gosudarstvennoi Tret’yakovskoi galerei, Moscow, 1963, p. 34; Vystavka russkoi akvareli kontsa XVIII – nachala XX vekov iz sobraniya Gosudarstvennoi Tret’yakovskoi galerei, Moscow, 1967, p. 88; Mikhail Vrubel’ v Tret’yakovskoi galeree, muzeyakh i chastnykh sobraniyakh Moskvy, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 1997, p. 127, No. 95; Vrubel’. Perepiska, vospominaniya o khudozhnike, compilation, introductory article and commentary by E. P. Gomberg-Verzhbinskaya and Y. N. Podkopaeva, Edn. 2, Leningrad, 1976, p. 206

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