PIERRE JEAN VAN DER OUDERAA (1841 - 1915): Portal of the San Marco Basilica in Venice (A lady who leaves the San Marco gives alms)

Signed and dated below right: P vd Ouderaa Venezia 1868, oil on canvas, dimensions 88 x 68 cm (canvas), 113 x 93 cm (frame). P.o.d..

Anyone who has visited Venice or knows it well will be drawn towards this atmospheric canvas of the northern portal of the Basilica of St. Mark. The eye is drawn into the portal by the powerful perspective created by the richly decorated arches and the different groups of people. The mosaics on the arches are executed richly in shiny gold, increasing the decorative aspect of this piece. The alternation of shadow and sunlight increases the liveliness of the setting and proves the mastership of this famous Flemish master in his relatively early days (he was 26 or 27 when painting this piece). As in many pieces of Ouderaa, an historical episode is depicted: the grand days of the City of the Dukes.

The decorative quality of this piece stretches beyond the actual canvas to the framing, that has a Byzantine look and is covered in Florentine gold.

Pierre Jean van der Ouderaa (see his selfportrait on the right) was born in Antwerp where he visited the Academy of Fine Arts. Outside the Academy the famous Henri Leys (1815-1869) was his teacher. He qualified as a painter of murals which he executed in his hometown and abroad. He also practiced portrait- and historical painting and was known as a master in the academic tradition. But Ouderaa differs from other academics in the naturalistic representation of his subject and a warm and empathic approach. He made several journeys through Italy and the Middle East. Ouderaa won many awards on shows in Amsterdam, Berlin and Lyon and his work is kept in several musea in Europe. He kept his position as a teacher at the academy in Antwerp until his old age. In present days, his historical pieces have regained attention mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom and prices are rising sharply.

This tell-tale picture offered by Ars Decora was painted by the Flemish master in 1868. It is perfectly clear why Ouderaa, only a year later, was called to be a teacher at the Antwerp Academy. This piece is in good condition and was recently cleaned and varnished by our restorer. More details can be provided on request.

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