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Joseph Smith and Canaletto

The merchant and banker Joseph Smith moved to Venice in the early 1700s. He began to collect and deal in paintings and books. In the early 1720s he first met Canaletto, who had recently begun to paint Venetian views. Realising the artist's potential, Smith gave him an important commission to make a set of six paintings for his palazzo on the Grand Canal. The paintings depict the area around San Marco, the civic and religious heart of Venice. Two of these paintings are presented here, with six preparatory drawings Canaletto made for Smith to give him an impression of the finished set.