Tribute to Canaletto

Venetian painter Giovanni Antonio Canal was born in Venice on 28th October 1697.  Better known as Canaletto he painted many fantastic landscapes  of Venice. He was also an important printmaker in etching. Canaletto served his apprenticeship with his father and his brother. He began in his father’s occupation, that of a theatrical scene painter. Canaletto was inspired by the Roman vedutista Giovanni Paolo Pannini, and started painting the daily life of the city and its people. After returning from Rome in 1719, he began painting in his topographical style. His first known signed and dated work is Architectural Capriccio. Much of Canaletto’s early artwork was painted “from nature”, differing from the then customary practice of completing paintings in the studio. Some of his later works do revert to this custom, as suggested by the tendency for distant figures to be painted as blobs of colour – an effect produced by using a camera obscura, which blurs farther-away objects.However, his paintings are always notable for their accuracy: he recorded the seasonal submerging of Venice in water and ice. Canaletto’s early works remain his most coveted and, according to many authorities, his best. One of his early pieces is The Stonemason’s Yard (1729, London, the National Gallery) which depicts a humble working area of the city. Later Canaletto painted grand scenes of the canals of Venice and the Doge’s Palace. His large-scale landscapes portrayed the city’s pageantry and waning traditions, making innovative use of atmospheric effects and strong local colors. For these qualities, his works may be said to have anticipated Impressionism.

in 1746 Canaletto moved to London and remained in England until 1755, producing views of London (including the new Westminster Bridge) and of his patrons’ castles and houses. His 1754 painting of Old Walton Bridge includes an image of Canaletto himself. After his return to Venice, Canaletto was elected to the Venetian Academy in 1763 and during his later years he often worked from old sketches,  & sometimes produced surprising new compositions. He was also willing to make subtle alternations to topography for artistic effect & continued to paint until his death on 19th April 1768.

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