Venetian painters: Canaletto

Antonio Canal called Canaletto (1697-1768)was the most famous “vedutista”, view painter, in Venice during the 18th century, the time of the Grand Tour. He was particularly successful in England since his agent and major collector was Joseph Smith, the British Consul in Venice. In 1746 Canaletto moved to London for about ten years and the paintings of this period are full of the grace and charm of Georgian London.

His paintings are extremely accurate, showing the great monuments but also aspects of daily life of the city. One of his most coveted and finest early pieces is the Stonemason’s Yard (1729, London, National Gallery), which depicts a humble working area of the city. His large-scale landscapes portrayed the city’s famed pageantry and waning traditions, making innovative use of atmospheric effects and strong local colours. For these qualities, his work may be said to have anticipated Impressionism.

In Venice there are only two paintings by Canaletto, both at the Ca’ Rezzonico Museum: a view of the Grand Canal with the Rialto bridge in the distance and the Rio dei Mendicanti near Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, two places that are today exactly as they were.

Ca’ Rezzonico – 17th century museum.

Canaletto in the Royal Collection

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