Grand Canal: Looking North-East towards the Rialto Bridge by Canaletto

Grand Canal: Looking North-East towards the Rialto Bridge by Canaletto (c.1725)

As today I am setting off for a short break in Milan and Venice, I thought it only right to feature a painting of the beautiful Adriatic city.  I suppose the name one conjures up in one’s mind when one thinks of art and Venice is Giovanni Antonio Canal better known by his nickname Canaletto (meaning little canal).    He was born in Venice in 1697 and was the son of Bernardo Canal, a painter, hence the use of the nickname to differentiate his works from those of his father.    My Daily Art Display for today is Grand Canal: Looking North-East towards the Rialto Bridge which Canaletto completed around 1725 and now hangs in the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden.

This was one of the largest works ever completed by Canaletto, measuring 146cms x 234cms.  We, the viewer, are looking on this scene from first floor of Palazzo Garzoni on the Grand Canal which is situated at the corner of Rio di Sant’Angelo.  If we look across the water to the left we are just able to make out the start of the Rio di San Polo, on the left side of which, in the left corner of the painting is the building, Palazzo Barbarigo della Terazza.  If you look over the top of the building you can just make out the top of the San Polo steeple.  Let your eyes alight on the buildings across the other side of the water and move along to the right to the end of the buildings and you can just see the famous Rialto Bridge

We are looking in a north-easterly direction at a threatening sky and by the dampness on the parapet in the right foreground one must presume there has been rain earlier on in the day and maybe the storm has passed or perhaps the heavens are about topen once again.

Canaletto has added a number of gondolas to the scene and we see them move up and down and criss-cross the Grand Canal.  I am not sure who has the right of way on the canal but if you look closely at the row-boat and the gondola in the left foreground they are about to collide with the men from the row-boat frantically trying to fend off the prow of the gondola.  The passenger of the gondola can be seen standing up gesticulating at his gondolier.  It is thought that Canaletto’s positioning of the various boats in the painting is not based on reality but more to add a picturesque quality to the work.  This is not the only thing which is not true to life as what we see does not exist.  Canaletto actually combined two views into one.  The right side of the painting is a view one would see from the north-east corner of the Palazzo Garzoni but the left hand side of our painting could only be viewed from the north-west corner of the Palazzo so although the two sides look as if they are opposite each other we are in fact looking at a scene which encompasses a ninety degree angle.  However let us not worry about that illusion, let us just take in the exquisite detail of life in 18th century Venice.

As I said at the begining I am about to go catch my flight to Milan and although I promised you a daily art display my output will be totally reliant on the WiFi availability at my hotels