Caravaggio and the Painters of the North
From 21 June to 18 September 2016
Salmon first established his reputation in Boston with several panoramic canvases that a local newspaper praised as "indubitable tokens of great talent." Among these projects was a view of the city commissioned as a drop curtain by the Federal Street Theatre in 1828. Two years later Salmon exhibited a series of 15-foot panoramas of the naval battle at Algiers, at least one of which was semi-transparent and could have been illuminated with special lighting effects. He had worked occasionally as a scenery painter since 1806, and his theatrical training may have influenced a pair of pictures that came to light in England in 1969. Painted more thinly and in a higher key that his Scottish or Boston scenes, View of Palermo and View of Venice are Salmon's last known works. Their bright palette, deep orthogonals and crisp draftsmanship also reveal, of course, the long influence of Venetian veduta tradition on Salmon's art.
Clearly initialled and dated "R.S. 1845", the pair suggest that Salmon occasionally continued to paint on a large scale after failing eyesight curtailed his work in 1840. He returned to Europe -probably to England- two years later, and managed to execute only one or two paintings a year. Several of these late works are imaginary scenes based on engravings, photographs or the work of J. M. W. Turner. View of Venice, although containing a precisely-charted configuration of boats typical of Salmon's Boston Harbour scenes, particularly recalls the heightened colour of Turner's painting of the Adriatic city.
Elizabeth Garrity Ellis