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Canaletto began his career as a theatrical scene painter, like his father, in the Baroque tradition. Influenced by Giovanni Panini, he is specialised in vedute (views) of Venice, his birth place. Strong contrast between light and shadow is typical of this artist. Furthermore, if some of those views are purely topographical, others include festivals or ceremonial subjects. He also published, thanks to John Smith, his agent, a series of etchings of Cappricci. His main purchasers were British aristocracy because his views reminded them of their Grand Tour. In his paintings geometrical perspective and colours are structuring. Canaletto spent ten years in England. John Smith sold Canaletto’s works to George III, creating the major part of the Royal Canaletto Collection. His greatest works influenced landscape painting in the nineteenth century.
crowds would grow thicker and strolling musicians would sing the arias of Bellini and Verdi or play a harp and violin concert. And down there, against a sky filled with twinkling stars, the dark mass of Saint Mark’s would be silhouetted while the dark arches over its entrances, barely lit up by some flames swaying to and fro, were dimly outlined. 1 Francisco Morosini, after experiencing the effects of Venice’s political jealousy, was appointed Generalissimo. In 1688, honour was bestowed upon
Richmond’s gallery. Without mentioning his drawings, TS Canaletto 4C.qxp 11/04/2008 2:46 PM Page 103 103 TS Canaletto 4C.qxp 11/04/2008 2:46 PM Page 104 59. Venice: Piazza San Marco towards San Geminiano, c. 1726-1728. Oil on canvas, 134.6 x 173.4 cm. The Royal Collection, London. 104 TS Canaletto 4C.qxp 11/04/2008 2:47 PM Page 105 60. The Campo di Rialto, c. 1758-1763. Oil on canvas, 119 x 186 cm. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin. 105 TS Canaletto 4C.qxp 11/04/2008
interests, they had the authority to elect a doge from among the gondoliers who, despite the pomp of the coronation at San Nicolo, remained faithful to rowing. One can distinguish these two factions in Canaletto’s paintings. The Castellini are wearing, as a rallying sign, the red cap and belt. Their adversaries are recognizable by their black and dark blue headgear. There were constant battles between the two sides during the jousts, evidenced by the fist fighting on the Saint Barnabas Bridge in
London. 2 capped with a child. In addition, an acrobat equipped with wings glided down a rope stretched between the top of the bell tower and the Doges’ Palace balcony. Taking this aerial route, he 9. The Grand Canal in the Vicinity of arrived in front of the doge, offered him compliments and flowers, and then showered poetry Santa Maria della Carita, 1726. and sonnets upon the crowd, enjoyed even by the least literate. A war of fists was another gift Oil on canvas, 90 x 132 cm. of lively
nobility. Plebeians and foreigners could likewise be registered after they proved, through their actions, their allegiance to the State. Following the Chioggia War (1378-1381), thirty families in the nation were given noble status in this way. The registry was then reopened in 1775 to remedy the impoverishment of an entire caste, adding commoners who had the most assets. However, this oligarchy was rather mismanaged by the government, whose behaviour caused fewer problems for the general