London, Westminster Bridge with a distant view of Lambeth Palace - Antonio Canaletto - Framed Picture 16" x 20"
Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto (Little Canal), was an Italian painter of city views or vedute, of Venice. He also painted imaginary views, although the demarcation in his works between the real and the imaginary is never quite clearcut.
From 1746 to 1756 he worked in England where he created many sights of London. He was highly successful in England, thanks to the British merchant and connoisseur Joseph Smith, whose large collection of Canaletto's works was sold to King George III in 1762.
Canaletto was inspired by the Roman vedutista Giovanni Paolo Pannini, and started painting the daily life of the city and its people.
After returning from Rome in 1719, he began painting in his topographical style. In 1725, the painter Alessandro Marchesini, who was also the buyer for the Lucchese art collector Stefano Conti, had inquired about buying two more 'views of Venice', when the agent urged him to consider instead the work of "Antonio Canale... it is like Carlevaris, but you can see the sun shining in it."
Much of Canaletto's early artwork was painted "from nature", differing from the then customary practice of completing paintings in the studio.
Canaletto's early works remain his most coveted and, according to many authorities, his best. One of his early pieces is The Stonemason's Yard which depicts a humble working area of the city. It is regarded one of his finest works.
Later Canaletto painted grand scenes of the canals of Venice and the Doge's Palace. His large-scale landscapes portrayed the city's pageantry and waning traditions, making innovative use of atmospheric effects and strong local colors. For these qualities, his works may be said to have anticipated Impressionism.
Many of his pictures were sold to Englishmen on their Grand Tour, often through the agency of the merchant Joseph Smith; who was later appointed British Consul in Venice in 1744. It was Smith who acted as an agent for Canaletto, first in requesting paintings of Venice from the painter in the early 1720s and helping him to sell his paintings to other Englishmen.
In the 1740s Canaletto's market was disrupted when the War of the Austrian Succession led to a reduction in the number of British visitors to Venice, and in 1746 Canaletto moved to London, to be closer to his market.
He remained in England until 1755, producing views of London and of his patrons' castles and houses. His 1754 painting of Old Walton Bridge includes an image of Canaletto himself.
He was often expected to paint England in the fashion with which he had painted his native city. Canaletto's painting began to suffer from repetitiveness, losing its fluidity, and becoming mechanical to the point that the English art critic George Vertue suggested that the man painting under the name 'Canaletto' was an impostor. The artist was compelled to give public painting demonstrations in order to refute this claim; however, his reputation never fully recovered in his lifetime.
Joseph Smith sold much of his collection to George III, creating the bulk of the large collection of works by Canaletto owned by the Royal Collection. in 1762, George III paid £20,000 for Consul Smith's collection of 50 paintings and 142 drawings. There are many examples of his work in other British collections, including several at the Wallace Collection and a set of 24 in the dining room at Woburn Abbey.