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Canaletto - Giovanni Antonio Canale (1697-1768)
Giovanni Antonio Canale, known as Canaletto, was born in Venice where his father was a painter of theatrical scenery. The young Canaletto studied first in his father's workshop then probably under the Dutch painter van Wittel. He next went to Rome, where he learned perspective from Panini, the famous architectural artist.
Immediately upon his return to Venice, in 1720, Canaletto became successful as a painter and engraver of city scenes. Among his early and enthusiastic patrons was the British consul Joseph Smith who urged him to go to Britain. Before doing so, Canaletto returned to Rome for a two-year stay (1740-41) making his first trip to England in 1745. Except for two trips to Venice, he remained there until 1755. He painted many familiar English scenes and decorated many of the Palladian villas in the southern countries. Many of his later pictures were based on compositional and technical formulae worked out some years before. However, there are a few exceptions deserving attention: The Grand Canal Looking Down to the Rialto Bridge, The Campo di Rialto, The Vigilia di S. Pietro and The Vigilia di S. Marta, all four works were painted for the German patron Sigmund Streit; and the pair of views of the Piazza San Marco in the National Gallery, London: Piazza San Marco: Looking East from the North-West Corner; Piazza San Marco: Looking East from the South-West Corner.
He was elected to membership in the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts in 1763. Canaletto had a large studio in Venice and turned out quantities of those paintings and etchings that have made his name synonymous with eighteenth-century Venice. These are observations painted by a man who knew the city intimately, was saturated with its atmosphere, and was familiar with both its festival gaiety and its everyday scenes. Canaletto recorded his observations with clarity and delight in the color and constantly changing atmosphere that to him was Venice. Canaletto died of a fever aged 71, on April 10, 1768. He was buried in the church of San Lio, where he had been baptized.
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