1697 - 1768 · Italy
Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto, was an Italian painter who mastered the genre of “veduta”: a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting depicting a cityscape or, less often, other kinds of landscapes. His stunning views of Venice, Rome, and London greatly influenced later generations of artists and his innovative use of atmospheric effects, light, and colour are said to have anticipated Impressionism. In line with the spread of the rationalism typical of the Enlightenment period, he accurately created mathematical perspectives, often through a camera obscura. He also worked as an engraver and printmaker using the etching technique.
Born in 16987 in Venice, to an upper-class family, Canaletto studied under his father, the theatrical scene painter Bernardo Canal and worked as a stage designer himself. In 1719, after a trip to Rome, Canaletto started to create topographical paintings depicting the city's daily life often painting in natural surroundings, despite the custom of the day was to paint in a studio. As his reputation grew, Canaletto came to the attention of influential agents who promoted his work throughout Europe. In particular, the English art dealer Joseph Smith became his patron and invited him to England where he was especially in vogue. In 1746 Canaletto left Italy heading to London and lived there for a decade, leaving a notable mark in British art history. He moved back to Venice in 1756 and there he died in 1768.
Today, his works are part of high-calibre public collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the Correr Museum in Venice, among others.