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How Canaletto\’s representation of Venice inspired present era landscape artists


“Canal taught, by example the true use of the camera obscura; and to recognize the flaws usually brought to bear on a painting, when the craftsman relies completely on the perspective he views through that same camera, and on the colours – especially of the skies – without deftly removing that which could offend the senses.”



Giovanni Antonio Canal was a highly influential Venetian landscape painter, a style known as Veduta, or View Painter, during the 18th century. The artist was able to evoke the sounds of busy pedestrians, flickering light, and lapping water by using a technique in which stippled colours were painted into larger areas of wet paint. Along with painting, he also engaged in printmaking and etching, creating pieces in Venice and England.

The son of Bernardo Canal and Artemisia Barbieri, Canaletto was born in Venice on October 28, 1697, and worked with his father and brother during his apprenticeship. He started off painting theatre sets like his father, who did it for a living. Canaletto began depicting city and citizen life after being inspired by Roman vedutista Giovanni Paolo Pannini. Bernardo Canal, the name of his father, inspired him to coin the nickname \”Canaletto,\” which in Italian represents \”little Canal.\”


Early paintings by Canaletto are still his most coveted and, in the opinion of many experts, his best. The Stonemason\’s Yard, which represents a modest working sector of the city, is one of his best early works. Later, Canaletto gained fame for his elaborate depictions of Venice\’s canals and the Doge\’s Palace. His expansive landscape paintings captured the city\’s storied pomp and fading traditions by creatively utilising atmospheric effects and vibrant regional hues. His works can be regarded to have anticipated Impressionism because of these characteristics.


At the time of Canaletto, Venice was a hub of culture and a centre for expensive crafts like lace and glassmaking. Along with the musician Antonio Vivaldi and the Rococo painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Canaletto belonged to a group of prominent Venetian artists. Famous for his accurate and topographical representations of Venice, he shows the city\’s rich cultural life in his paintings, from the busy traffic on the Grand Canal to the grandiose Ascension Day celebrations. One of Canaletto\’s great draws is still his attention to detail. This is especially clear in the way he utilizes people, who are all individually individualised and represent various social classes and occupations.


The Venetian Academy chose Canaletto for membership in 1763. He continued to paint until his death in 1768 due to bladder inflammation. In his later years, he frequently used earlier sketches as a starting point, yet he also created unexpectedly fresh compositions. He was prepared to modify the topography subtly for artistic purposes. The legacy that Canaletto has left is not entirely clear. His precise painting approach inspired the present generation of cityscape and landscape artists, and his topographies, which were in high demand during his lifetime, served as models for them. His work is included in illustrious collections held by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and the National Gallery in London.



  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canaletto
  2. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/canaletto/
  3. https://www.thehistoryofart.org/canaletto/biography/

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