Great Art : Canaletto and the Art of Venice


Canaletto and the Art of Venice – Embark on an unforgettable journey through the captivating world of Canaletto and the Art of Venice – a magnificent ode to the timeless allure of great art. This awe-inspiring exploration is graciously introduced by the exceptionally talented curator and esteemed broadcaster, Tim Marlow. Renowned for his impeccable eye for artistic brilliance, Marlow assumes the dual roles of curator and broadcaster, immersing you in a mesmerizing experience that transcends the boundaries of time and space.



Prepare to be enraptured by the sheer magnitude of this artistic odyssey, expertly guided by none other than Tim Marlow himself, whose artistic prowess as the Artistic Director of The Royal Academy of Arts sets the stage for an extraordinary journey. With his profound knowledge and infectious passion for the subject, Marlow unravels the secrets and intricacies of Venetian art, illuminating the canvas with insights that breathe life into each stroke and masterpiece.

But that’s not all – alongside Marlow, a constellation of eminent art experts joins forces, their collective brilliance forming a formidable constellation of knowledge and expertise. As you delve into the realms of history’s artistic greats, these virtuosos of art serve as your trusted guides, revealing hidden narratives and shedding light on the nuances that make each artistic masterpiece truly remarkable.

Prepare to be captivated, for within the immersive embrace of Canaletto and the Art of Venice, the true beauty and profound significance of art will unfold before your very eyes. Allow yourself to be swept away by the grandeur of Venice’s artistic legacy, guided by these luminaries of the art world who offer an unrivaled understanding and appreciation of the masterpieces that have shaped our collective imagination.

Step into this extraordinary voyage where the past meets the present, and history’s artistic greats are brought to life in vibrant and breathtaking detail. Canaletto and the Art of Venice is not just an exhibition; it is an immersive journey that transcends time, inviting you to experience the magic and splendor of Venetian art in all its glorious dimensions. Let the symphony of colors, textures, and emotions resonate within your soul as you embark on this extraordinary odyssey through the annals

Canaletto and the Art of Venice

We start with an immersive journey into the life and art of Venice’s famous view-painter Canaletto. The film also offers the chance to step inside two official royal residences – Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle – to learn more about the artist and Joseph Smith, the man who introduced Canaletto to Britain. The programme visits some of the sites immortalised in Canaletto’s views, from the Rialto Bridge to the Piazza San Marco, and the Palazzo Ducale to the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Featuring contributions from Royal Collection curators and the world’s leading experts in Venetian history.

Giovanni Antonio Canal (18 October 1697 – 19 April 1768), better known as Canaletto, was an Italian painter of city views or vedute, of Venice, Rome, and London. He also painted imaginary views (referred to as capricci), although the demarcation in his works between the real and the imaginary is never quite clearcut. He was further an important printmaker using the etching technique. In the period from 1746 to 1756 he worked in England where he painted 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 a son of the painter Bernardo Canal, hence his mononym Canaletto (“little Canal”). His nephew and pupil Bernardo Bellotto was also an accomplished landscape painter, with a similar painting style, and sometimes used the name “Canaletto” to advance his own career, particularly in countries—Germany and Poland—where his uncle was not active.

Canaletto was born in Venice on October 28, 1697, to Bernardo Canal and Artemisia Barbieri, and served his apprenticeship with his father and his brother. He began in his father’s occupation, that of a theatrical scene painter. 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 famous topographical style. His first known signed and dated work is Architectural Capriccio (1723, Milan, in a private collection). Studying with the older Luca Carlevaris, a moderately-talented painter of urban cityscapes, he rapidly became his master’s equal.

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 informed 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. Some of his later works do revert to this custom, as suggested by the tendency of distant figures to be painted as blobs of colour – an effect produced by using a camera obscura, which blurs farther-away objects. However, his paintings are always notable for their accuracy: he recorded the seasonal submerging of Venice in water and ice.

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