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Keyl reported in a letter that he had learned from Sir Edwin Landseer that 'The Queen was quite delighted with my Lambs brought them herself with her own hands into his bedroom – thought it quite Preraphaelite'.
Signed and dated: F.W. Keyl / 1868.
Easter in the Royal Collection

Explore Easter imagery in the Royal Collection


The Crossing of San Marco looking to the North Transept on Good Friday

c. 1725-30

Oil on canvas | 33.3 x 22.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 400567

This small painting is similar in size to Canaletto's drawing of the same view, The Nave of San Marco looking East (RCIN 907430). As in the drawing, the light floods in from the main west doors on the left, except that in the painting the lighting is at a higher angle, singling out the worshippers' heads, and focusing on the cross and the crucifix above the rood screen and the single lamp hanging down over the crossing. A priest appears to be officiating, with three other figures in the double-tier pulpit. This pulpit, the chancel screen and the hexagonal bigonzo pulpit on the right are draped with hangings. There has been much debate about the identity of the sarcophagus set against the north transept wall of the chapel of St Isidore, which features in the painting. It has now been established that it is the Easter Sepulchre, which played an important part in the Holy Week ceremonies. Canaletto has lowered the succession of barrel-vaulted arches to the sarcophagus and slightly narrowed and extended the vista, adding grandeur to the scene despite its small scale.

This is a poetic masterpiece on an intimate scale, with the late afternoon sun spilling in to highlight a few bright reds, yellows and blues of the crowd, and give a sense of the glittering splendour of the mosaics. The brushwork is fluid, with broad passages for the draperies over the pulpits, but details such as the single line of the chains supporting the cross and the central lamp are extremely fine and precise.The gold and candles flicker, but the overwhelming mood is of a deeply serious and sombre moment as nightfall approaches.

Text adapted from Canaletto & the Art of Venice, 2017.

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