“As to Canaletto, his work consists of painting views of Venice, and in this field he has surpassed anything done before him. His style is clear, gay, lively, with true perspective and admirable detail.”
– Charles de Brosses, Lettres familières écrites d’Italie, 1739–1740
Giovanni Antonio Canal, who went by Canaletto, was a painter, etcher and draughtsman who specialized in vedute (views) of his native Venice, and later, of London. In a time when scenery was popular among wealthy tourists, Canaletto stood out with his technique and skill. He would eventually influence many generations of painters.
Spending most of his life in Venice, Canaletto began by painting theatre scenery then moved on to city views, drawing on site, sometimes with the aid of a camera obscura. Canaletto also created capricci
, views that were either completely imaginary, or partly based on real places, such as Imaginary View of Padua
(c. 1741). His work was popular with visitors from England, who brought back his paintings as souvenirs. (St. Mark’s and the Clock Tower, Venice
, c. 1735–37). In 1746, he moved to England and started painting the scenery of London, eventually returning to Venice in 1755.
Canaletto was favoured by English visitors to Italy, who drove up his prices up and virtually monopolized his work. In 1763, he became a member of the Academia Veneziana di Pittura e Scultura.
Born in Venice, Italy, 18 October 1697
Died in Venice, Italy, 1768
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