Giovanni Antonio Canal [Canaletto] [1697-1768]

Italian painter

Giovanni Antonio Canal [Canaletto]

was born,
October 18, 1697
in Venice

Canaletto , son of the theatrical scene painter Bernardo Canal, hence his mononym Canaletto (“little Canal”), was considered important member of the 18th-century Venetian school. He painted mainly city views or vedute*, of Venice, Rome, and London, and also imaginary views (referred to as capricci).

Canaletto was also a draughtsman and printmaker, producing various series of etchings including one for Consul Smith entitled Vedute altre prese dai luoghi altre ideate. From 1746 to 1756 he worked in England where he depicted views of the countryside and of London [Warwick Castle , Alnwick Castle].

Thanks to the British merchant and connoisseur Joseph “Consul” Smith, whose large collection of Canaletto’s works was sold to King George III in 1762, he was very successful in England.
Much of Canaletto’s early artwork was painted “from nature”, differing from the then customary practice of completing paintings in the studio. Some of his later works do revert to this custom.

His paintings are always notable for their accuracy: he recorded the seasonal submerging of Venice in water and ice. Canaletto learned the basic principles of painting by executing large theatrical sets [a trade that he learned from his father Bernardo Canal]. In 1719 he and his father travelled to Rome where Canaletto encountered the work of Giovanni Paolo Panini who specialised in classical ruins and panoramic urban views. The work of Luca Carlevarijs and Marco Ricci also played an important role in the development of Canaletto’s style. On his return to Venice in 1720 he registered in the painters’ guild and appears in their records until 1767.

He found that providing formulaic paintings for tourists was very lucrative. These, still highly skilled works, were produced by him often in collaboration with an organised workshop. They usually record the lavish Venetian public ceremonies, as in ‘Regatta on the Grand Canal’.

Canaletto’s first known views of Venice date to the 1720s and were commissions from Stefano Conti and the Prince of Liechtenstein. Much of Canaletto’s oeuvre was painted for foreign collectors who acquired his works as souvenirs while on the Grand Tour.

*Veduta refers to a highly detailed -usually large-scale painting- of city views
**Capriccio refers to a highly detailed painting of imaginary city views

So here’s a glimpse of his work [no quotes…]
The Piazza San Marco in Venice
The Reception of the French Ambassador Jacques–Vincent Languet, Compte de Gergy at the Doge’s Palace
Rialto Bridge from the North
Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the Scuola di San Marco
Benetke, pogled s San Giorgio Maggiore
Il Campo e la Chiesa dei Gesuiti
Piazza San Marco – Looking East from the South West Corner
Return of the Bucintoro to the Molo on Ascension Day
The Piazzetta Looking South-west towards S. Maria della Salute
The Riva degli Schiavoni
View of the Isles of San Michele, San Cristoforo and Murano from the Fondamenta Nuove
The Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day
Scala dei Giganti
View of San Giovanni dei Battuti at Murano
The Bacino di San Marco, Venice
Venice, Piazza San Marco looking west towards San Geminiano
Rio dei Mendicanti – Looking South
The Rio dei Mendicanti [Detail]
The Piazzetta towards San Giorgio Maggiore
Ca’ Rezzonico – Il rio dei Mendicanti
Piazza di San Marco, em Veneza
San Cristoforo, San Michele, and Murano from the Fondamenta Nuove, Venice
Westminster Abbey with a procession of Knights of the Bath
The Stonemason’s Yard
The River Thames from Richmond House, a classic veduta
The first Westminster Bridge
View of the Entrance to the Venetian Arsenal
Capriccio with Gothic church and lagoon
The Doge and Grand Council in Sala del Maggior Consiglio
Venise, la place Saint-Marc Giovanni Antonio Canal

The Grand Canal

click on the drawings to see in full view

Etchings – Drawings

click on the drawings to see in full view

Johann Joachim Quantz Portrait by Johann Friedrich Gerhard

I have chosen music

by the German Baroque music composer

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773)

flutist, flute maker and

born the same year as Canaletto

Flute Concertos

Concerto in G minor QV 5:196 0:00
Concerto in D minor QV 5:86 16:49
Concerto in A minor OV 5:236 28:07
Concerto in G major OV 5:173 46:33

Les Buffardins
Frank Theuns – flute

For more information on Canaletto:


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51 replies »

  1. Thank goodness someone recorded the architecture of this time and place. What a perfect talent to do this. Of course I now see I got Canaletto confused with Caravaggio.
    I thought Caravaggio painted these images of buildings. When you did your Caravaggio post, I was shocked. Live and learn!
    I listened to every note of the Flute Concertos. Brilliant, and highly conducive to my creativity.
    Marina, thank you so much!
    xoxoxoxoxo 🎼❤️ xoxoxoxoxo 🎼❤️ xoxoxoxoxo 🎼❤️

    • And you’re not the only one! I confused them too and they differ as much as day and night!
      Thank goodness indeed ! Amazing talent!
      Happy you enjoyed the flute concerto too! Now I’m curious to see what is inspired!!! 😉
      Thank YOU!!!!!

  2. Before TV we had..? But seriously, he was one of the first artists to turn me on to the idea of transcendence in art… although I was too young to really understand it that way. Grade 5, 6 or 7… we had a board game called “Masterpiece,” if I remember right. Canaletto’s “Regatta” was on one of the cards… and I’ll never forget it. A beginning, for me.

  3. EXCELLENT! Canaletto is in my post on the handful of Most Influential artists in my life and work. Great, Great Post!!!

  4. Thank you for this amazing post. Giovanni Antonio Canal’s greatest gift was his ability to tell the story of his time so that we can imagine ourselves with him as he paints, each brushstroke bringing out new images. Without artists, we would not know exactly how people lived in the past – how they shopped, traveled or what they ate or drank. When I read your post (the second time around for me) I felt like I was entering a virtual art gallery. Fantastic!!

  5. Oh Wow… What a collection… What perspective, and precision …. If I were in an art gallery I would be standing in front of these paintings picking out details all day and marvelling at them.. From the window’s the people and their dress, to the added extras such as dogs sitting in the square … 😀 loved each and everyone….
    Many thanks for sharing Marina… 🙂 ❤

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