Giovanni Antonio Canale, better known as Canaletto was born on 28 October 1697, in Venice, the son of an artist.
By its very location and the manner of its construction Venice is one of the most beautiful and evocative cities in the world and has long been the favoured subject of artists from all nations but few captured its grandeur and majesty better than Canaletto.
Such was the allure of Venice that no Grand Tour, where the sons and daughters of the privileged travelled Europe to absorb its culture and heritage was complete without a visit to the Queen of the Adriatic, and the drawing rooms of many a country manor and city townhouse were adorned with a Canaletto as a memento of that brief flourishing of spirit, endeavour and desire before the time of commitment and responsibility.
The requirement of those fortunate enough to indulge in the delights of Venice without the burden of service or labour to commemorate their stay ensured that his paintings were a commercial success not that this guaranteed critical acclaim which only came much later in life.
When war in Europe threatened to exclude him from the primary market for his work, England, he moved to London where he was to remain for the best part of a decade until 1755, but his depictions of the world’s most cosmopolitan city were so similar in subject, style and technique to those of Venice that he was accused of being repetitive and lacking in imagination.
This was somewhat unfair for Canaletto was not shy of breaking the rules often changing the topography of a scene to enhance the image and unlike many artists of his time he painted outdoors and not from preliminary sketches.
He was to become more studio bound as time progressed and his patrons demanded ever greater clarity and detail, and much like the Dutch artist Vermeer he was rumoured to have used the camera obscura to achieve this.
He was eventually to receive the acclaim of his peers which had long been evident in their eagerness to imitate his style which is only fitting for an artist whose popularity has never diminished.
Canaletto died in Venice, the city of his blood, on 19 April 1768, a very rich man.