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Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

The Grand Canal looking East from the Carità towards the Bacino c.1727-28

Oil on canvas | 48.0 x 80.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 400523

Cumberland Art Gallery, Large Light Closet, Hampton Court Palace

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  • This is one of a series of twelve views by Canaletto of the Grand Canal which are all the same format. The pictures form the basis of the fourteen engraved plates in Visentini's 'Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum' (Venice, 1735), thus providing an uncontested date for completion. It is thought that they originated in the years around 1730. The paintings were all acquired by George III with the collection of Consul Smith.

    The painting is dominated by the façade and belltower of Santa Maria della Carità, built in the 1440s under Bartolomeo Bon. The adjacent Scuola Grande della Carità, just visible at the right edge of the painting, casts its shadow on the façade of the church, providing a delightful foil to the sunlit figures on the foreground bridge. The church, monastery and scuola formed one of the most important religious complexes in Venice, though by the eighteenth century the church was in a state of disrepair: of the two statues present on the side pinnacles in two slightly earlier paintings by Canaletto, only one remains here, and the belltower collapsed in 1744. The Scuola was suppressed in 1807, and a decision was made to transfer the Accademia di Pittura e Scultura here from the Fontegheto della Farina. Ten years later the galleries of the Accademia opened in the former Scuola, where they remain. During the subsequent restoration of the redundant church its façade was much altered: the pinnacles were removed such that the upper profile is now formed by the line of the pointed-arch brick detailing, and the windows and portal were bricked up, to be replaced by four round-headed windows. The Rio della Carità in the foreground was filled in around the same time.

    Canaletto eliminated the buildings that would rise from the bottom edge of the composition, to give a view down the Grand Canal to Santa Maria della Salute and the Bacino. The left bank takes in the gothic Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti and Palazzo Barbaro to end with the flank of Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande. The dome and belltower of San Pietro di Castello and the pointed tower of San Biagio (demolished when the church was rebuilt in the middle of the eighteenth century) can be seen on the distant skyline. The Accademia bridge and vaporetto stop now disrupt this view down the canal.

    Catalogue entry adapted from Canaletto in Venice, London, 2005.

    Acquired in 1762 by George III from Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice (Italian List nos 65-76); recorded in the Gallery at Kew in 1805 (no 15-8)

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    48.0 x 80.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external)

    67.1 x 98.9 x 8.8 cm (frame, external)

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