Canaletto arrived in London in 1746 and stayed for 10 years. What was London like at this time? I wonder if Canaletto was aware that the Industrial Revolution was about to start. He would have known there was a war going on, in fact several wars in different parts of Europe, which in one way or another seem to have been related to the Austrian Succession. Possibly Canaletto left Venice because of this but more likely it was because the British aristocrats were not inclined to take holidays away from home anymore. This meant that the market for Canaletto’s paintings started to dry up, a market that had been managed back in Venice by Joseph Smith.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
What we do now however is that like all artists Canaletto was constantly experimenting with his techniques, trying to improve them, trying out new ideas. And we do know now that the English paintings were different. So let’s see what he was up to. For this information I have relied on the research done by the British Art Studies. For those of you interested in the techinical side of painting I recommend this excellent site to further your knowledge. (http://www.britishartstudies.ac.uk/issues/issue-index/issue-2/canaletto-colour)
(Source: Royal Trust Collection)
Turner revered the works of Canaletto so much that it is thought his trip to Italy to paint Venice was inspired by Canaletto not the poet Byron as argued by other.(Plant, Margaret, Venice: Fragile City, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2002).
I love Canaletto’s paintings but I do feel compelled to expose one little foible he had which became one of his strengths. He liked to move architectural features from their established positions and paint them into a new landscape! More on this after I have a day off to do some research. If you are using a Canaletto painting of Venice to find your way round you might find yourself slightly confused when some of the buildings just aren't there. Did they fall down? No they were never there in the first place.