Saturday, February 17, 2007


Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) (1697-1768) painted this View of the Old Horse Guards and Banqueting Hall from St Jame's Palace in 1749. Canaletto was born in Venice and he was a son of the painter Bernardo Canal, hence his mononym Canaletto ("little Canal").

As a painter he created vedute esatte (precise views), and also vedute ideale (imaginary or fantastic views), which are known as capricci, in these works Canaletto drew together architectural subjects from different sources and arranged them in an imaginative form to create a very consciously fictional and poetic image.

Canaletto painted two views of the same subject, the one below being today the property of the Tate Gallery London. In 1746 Canaletto arrived in London; he worked in England intermittently until 1755. His first works in England were the views of the Thames and the recently completed Westminster Bridge. In 1755 the artist returned to Venice permanently. In 1763 Canaletto was finally elected to the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts. His admission had been rejected previously, probably because view painting was not highly regarded by academicians. Canaletto died of a fever aged 71, on April 10, 1768.

The first picture on this post was sold in 1973 to an art dealer named Roy Miles, who had previously run a ladie's hairdressing salon, for £156,000 ($241,000). He was very much pleased later on when the Mellon Center for Studies in British Art let him know they would like to buy it. The Centre was founded in 1970 through a generous grant from Paul Mellon, KBE to Yale University.

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