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Early Drawings around San Marco

Perhaps the first paintings that Canaletto painted on commission for Joseph Smith, in the mid-1720s, were six large views around San Marco. The paintings are all the same size, four vertical and two horizontal, and they form three pairs. They were probably designed for a specific setting in Smith’s residence, Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana on the Grand Canal, and now hang in Buckingham Palace.

These six drawings correspond with the composition of each of these paintings. Though rapidly and broadly drawn, they are not sketches done on the spot, and may have been made to show Smith the intended compositions. They are thus different in purpose from the finished drawings of later years, which were to be independent works of art.

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