Sargent had a particular interest in the architecture of Venice, and he painted this church, Santa Maria dei Gesuati, many times. By choosing a dramatic perspective from the corner and by cropping its façade, Sargent highlights how this massive baroque church humbles the neighboring houses.
The white marble of the church seems to dissolve in the sunlight, a picturesque effect, achieved by using translucent colors for the monumental columns and pillars. Only a few decorative elements such as the sculptures in the niches and the one visible capital are painted in more opaque colors.
Source: Oliver Tostmann and Anne-Marie Eze, The Inscrutable Eye: Watercolors by John Singer Sargent in Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Collection.