Friday, December 28, 2012


Venice, The Piazzetta from the Molo
oil on canvas
100.4 x 107.4 cm
The National Gallery, London, UK

The view shows the piazzetta, the area between the Piazza San Marco and the waterfront, known as the Molo. On the right is the Doge's Palace and beyond it the basilica of San Marco. In the center is the Torre dell'Orologio, the clock tower, and on the left the campanile of San Marco. The first building on the left is the Library. The column with the lion of St Mark which stands on the Molo has been omitted. The painting is considered a work by Canaletto's studio.

Giovanni Antonio Canale (1697 - 1768) , known as Canaletto (little Canal), was born in Venice where his father was a painter of theatrical scenery. The young Canaletto studied first in his father's workshop then probably under the Dutch painter. He next went to Rome, where he learned perspective. Immediately upon his return to Venice, in 1720, Canaletto became successful as a painter and engraver of city scenes.

Canaletto found that providing formulaic paintings for tourists was very lucrative. These, still highly skilled works, were produced by him often in collaboration with an organized workshop. He often made meticulous preparatory drawings. He may have used a camera obscura for topographical accuracy in creating some of his designs, but he always remained concerned with satisfying compositional design, not simply slavishly recording views. He recorded his observations with clarity and delight in the color and constantly changing atmosphere that to him was Venice.

Canaletto had a large studio in Venice and turned out quantities of those paintings and etchings that have made his name synonymous with eighteenth-century Venice. He was elected to membership in the Venetian Academy in 1763.