Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Canaletto- Invented by An English Man

One day,I had some free time and went to the National Gallery,to get a deeper and broader understanding of artwork and discovered a fine painter,Giovanni Antonio Canal or better known as Canaletto.By this time, I had been to The National Gallery at least five times, but I felt a bit empty, because I never really got to learn in depth about any of the artists and my knowledge felt very superficial.

That day,as I left my house,I made a determination to go to The National Gallery and hear the Artist Lecture that takes place everyday at 1pm.That particular day, they were lecturing on Caneletto Canaletto an 18th Italian Rococo Era Painter, 1697-1768.What I discovered is that although at first glance, Canaletto is not really my style of painter, usually I like painters that use vibrant colors and have a whimsical flare.Amongst the Impressionist painters, I enjoy Renoir and a bit of Monet and Pissaro.I also adore Chagall and love Toulouse Lautrec just as much that he was an eccentric artist as for his art.I deplore Picasso and think he's over rated.He was also a first class wanker and woman abuser, but that's neither here nor there. But, to me, the Impressionist have always been a bit over rated.I enjoy looking at artwork from different centuries, besides the Nineteenth or Twentieth. I am not big on Modern Art. OK, well, I guess I have my opinions about Art.) I enjoy the artist from the eighteenth century and especially from the Baroque Rococo period, like Fragonard or Boucher( See: French in London blog).Upon seeing Canaletto, for the first time,I didn't fancy him initially at first glance. However, upon studying him in depth, I found his style of painting and legacy to be quite intriguing. And, thanks to the lecture which helped me get a deeper look at the artist and man, instead of being a shallow purveyor of art, I got to learn a few things and here would like to share them with you.

In the 18th Century,the love affair between Venice and the English really got going with the popularization of The Grand Tour. The Grand Tour, would consist of a classical education, which primary value lay in the exposure both to the cultural artefacts of antiquity and the Renaissance and to the aristocratic and fashionable society of the European continent. A Grand Tour could last from several months to several years. French and German gentry were also inclined to go on the Grand Tour, as it was called, south to Italy. But the British were especially enthusiastic, and Venice was a mandatory destination. Venice, being a city of pleasure, of carnivals, masked balls, and music. That was perhaps one reason why it became fashionable to buy a view or set of views to recall this delightful place. paintings portraying the grandeur of Venice became popular at the dawn of modern tourism. British visitors on The Grand Tour created a demand for view paintings of celebrated sights and Venetian festivals to take home with them as souvenirs. Many gentlemen – so-called milordi – sought the works of Canaletto.

An agent -an Italianised Englishman named Joseph Smith, who was ready to negotiate a price with the artist, pack up the pictures and dispatch them to Britain.He sold much of his collection to George III( the Mad King George who was said to have gone mad because he had porphyry,King from June 1738 - January 1820), creating the bulk of the large collection of Canaletto's owned now by the Royal Collection.Smith also bought Canaletto's work himself, so prolifically that when he finally sold his collection to George III, it contained 53 paintings and 140 drawings by that artist - the greatest array of Canaletto's work in the world.


Canelleto was such a skilled painter and painted the minutia of daily life in Venice in such great detail that art historians agree he used what is called a (the Mad King George who was said to have gone mad because he had porphyry,4 June 1738- 29 January 1820) camera obscura.A Camera obscura is a box fitted with a lens at one end and a mirror on the other that reflects an image onto a canvas.




His finest work is perhaps The Stonemason's Yard (1729)and the topic of the lecture that lovely afternoon at The National Gallery.



His views went beyond topographical accuracy to capture the poetic play of light, water and architecture, unique to the experience of Venice. Prompted by declining tourism, in 1746 Canaletto moved to England, where he painted views of London, Oxford and other cities as well as the country seats of his patrons.



Eton College (1754)





Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day from Two Venetian Ceremonial Scenes



A Regatta on the Grand Canal from Two Venetian Ceremonial Scenes


Canaletto's views always fetched high prices, and even as early as the 18th century Catherine the Great and other European monarchs vied for his grandest paintings. The record price paid at auction for a Canaletto is £18.6 million for View of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi to the Rialto, set at Sotheby's in London in July 2005.

The Los Angeles County Museum houses Canaletto. Believe it or not.


Piazza San Marco, Looking South and West (1763)

Some Other Interesting Articles on Canaletto:
-A Gallery of Canaletto Work
- See More Canaletto at The Royal Collection
-How Canaletto was Invented by an Englishman
-Canaletto and The Grand Tour

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries

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