Giovanni Antonio Canale , known as Canale, was born in Venice on the 28 th of October 1697. He was the son of Artemisia Barbieri and painter Bernardo Canale. Hence, he was referred to as Canaletto. His father was a theatrical scene painter; it is under his guidance that Canaletto began his career. He was to become one of the greatest painters of vedutes or picturesque views.
Canaletto : The Artist
In 1719-20, Canaletto visited Rome. Here, he was inspired by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, the Roman vedutista. Canaletto began painting the daily life of Rome: people, his surroundings and city scenes. It is here that he developed his topographical style.
When Canaletto returned to Venice, he began practicing this new style. Unlike many artists of the time, Canaletto painted directly from nature. That is, he did not paint in a studio nor base his works on several sketches he did on site. As his works were completed on site, they are defined by an astounding reality.
He is best known for his architectural accuracy, rich colors and panoramic views. Canaletto's first known signed and dated work is Architectural Capriccio (1723), which is now part of a private collection in Milan. During this early stage, he produced a fine piece of work: The Stonemason's Yard (1729, London, the National Gallery). This painting depicts the humble working life of the city. He innovated within the Italian tradition of vedute , and created two different forms of it: vedute estate , which were precise views, and vedute ideale , which were known as capricci , and were imaginary views.
Canaletto's most notable alliance is with the English merchant, Joseph Smith. In the 1720's, he requested paintings of Venice from Canaletto and soon became his agent. He helped him sell a large number of paintings to other Englishmen.
Canaletto soon had a large market in England. And in 1746, he moved to London, where he stayed till 1755. During his time in England, he produced views of London and of his patron's houses and castles. He also started painting England by superimposing Venice on it.
However, his time in England did not give Canaletto any artistic satisfaction. He was criticized as being repetitive and mechanical. His work lost its former fluidity, and the English art critic George Vertue even went so far as to suggest that Canaletto was an imposter of the genuine artist. This was the beginning of Canaletto's decline.
He returned to Venice and continued to paint until his death on the 19 th of April 1768.
Canaletto : Famous Paintings
Canaletto is famous for his grand views of Venice: its architectural splendor, its canals and palaces. His painting has always fetched high prices. European monarchs have favored them. In fact Joseph Smith sold a large part of his collection to George III. View of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi to the Rialto sold for a record price of £ 18.6 million.
Some of his famous Paintings include:
Stone Mason's Yard (The National Gallery, London)
Piazza San Marco - Looking Southeast
View on the Grand Canal (National Galleries, London)
Regatta on the Grand Canal (National Galleries, London)
Church of Santa Maria Della Salute (Louvre, Paris)
View of Venice (Gli Uffizi Galleries, Florence)
The Piazzetta, Venice (Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.)