September 17, 2017
Samuel Prout (1783-1852), Rialto Bridge, c.1845, watercolor, 17 1/16 x 12 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Richard B. Oliver, 1976.
Samuel Prout, born on this day in 1783 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, showed an early aptitude for drawing. In his early twenties, he moved to London where he became a prolific contributor to art periodicals and produced several volumes of drawings for the Ackermann publishing house. Through his travels, particularly to Germany and Italy, Prout discovered his niche in producing watercolors of picturesque cityscapes.
As exemplified in this painting of the Rialto Bridge over the canals of Venice, Italy, Prout became credited with depicting the signs of age and decay not unfeelingly and for the sake of texture, but instead using the worn architectural lines and other characteristics of the picturesque to leave an impression of nobility earned through age and time. The natural composition and colors of his art would go on to engage his viewers and influence artists that followed.