Birket Foster started his career as a wood engraver and illustrator. He gradually acquired his inimitable style in the 1850s, becoming a member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1860. As a wood engraver he learned to be meticulous in the delineation of closely observed detail and found stipple work the best means for achieving similar effects in watercolour.
He made his first continental visit to the Rhine in 1852, followed by Venice in 1868. He clearly had a liking for Venetian views as he was able to indulge his skill at portraying architectural details and the ferment of human activity.
Many of the views were produced in preparation for his fifty views of Venice, commissioned by Charles Seeley in 1868. He was one of the few artists who could be equally effective in small or large scale works.
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