www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 18, August 2001
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  All Previous Articles
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

Canaletto - Giovanni Antonio Canal
The exhibition "An Imaginary Venice" at the
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid until September 2, 2001
Canaletto, Carlevarijs, Bellotto, Marieschi, Guardi


Canaletto: El Bucentauro el Día de la Ascensión, 1743-45.
Photo: Catalogue An Imaginary Venice. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
 

Canaletto: La Plaza de San Marco hacia la Basílica, c. 1724.
Photo: Catalogue An Imaginary Venice. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
 

Canaletto: Capricho Arquitectónico, 1723.
Photo: Catalogue An Imaginary Venice. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
 

J. G. Links: Canaletto. Reprint edition 1999, Phaidon Press, 256 p. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk.
 

David Bomford, Gabriele Finaldi: Venice Through Canaletto's Eyes. Yale University Press, 1998, 64 p.
 
Canaletto's Sketchbook edited by Giovanna Nepi Scire and Giorgio Camuffo, Antique Collectors Club, 1997, 272 p. Get it from Amazon.com.
 
Edgar Peters Bowron, ed.: Bernardo Bellotto and the Capitals of Europe. Yale University Press, 2001, 304 p. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.de.
 
Article added on August 29, 2001
 
Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as "Canaletto" (Venice, 1697 - 1768). His works portraying his native city go beyond a simple representation. They are neither pure inventions nor mere recreations. His use of light, his capacity to reduce the architectural information and to combine different perspectives give it a special quality. The exhibition "An Imaginary Venice" stresses, as its title indicates, Canaletto's subjective vision of Venice.
 
Before Canaletto, there was Luca Carlevarijs (Udine, 1663 - Venice, 1730). He was a pioneer of Venetian vedutismo and the real precursor of Canaletto. Another painter was the Dutch Gaspar van Wittel, who spent the years 1694-95 in Venice. However, there is a substantial difference in the artistic approach of the two men: Van Wittel treated his visions of Rome, Naples and Venice with the same, accurate style whereas Carlevarijs evoked a mythical and symbolic Venice, painting the city through the filter of his subjectivity, e.g. changing the perspectives.
 
Canaletto was influenced by Carlevarijs, especially regarding the concentration on a limited number of symbolic places in Venice such as San Marco and the Grand Canal. Antonio Canal also used other sources of inspiration. However, his way of showing the space and formulating it in a surface of color is not inspired by any predecessor. In a revolutionary study in 1985, the Swiss art historian André Corboz ended the myth of  the "photographic painter" with his two-volume monograph entitled Canaletto. An Imaginary Venice (published in Milan). Antonio Canal was not limited to what his eyes could see
 
Canaletto, although considered the leading vedutista, was not alone. Bernardo Canal (Venice, 1674-1744), his father, is also present at the exhibition with a major panoramic view painting. His nephew Bernardo Bellotto (Venice, 1722 - Warsaw, 1780) had the privilege of learning directly from Canaletto himself and had an international career which took him to Rome, to the court of Augustus III in Dresden, to the Vienna of Empress Maria Theresa. He ended his career as Court Painter for the King of Poland in Warsaw. Therefore, he ventured successfully into genre, portraiture, allegory and history painting. By the way, the three of them, Bernardo Canal, Antonio Canal and Bernardo Bellotto all called themselves "Canaletto", creating a lot of confusion and erroneous attributions.
 
Michele Marieschi (Venice, 1710 - 1743), like Canaletto and his father Bernardo Canal, came from the Baroque world of theatre decoration, before becoming a master of vedute and caprichos. Francesco Guardi (Venice, 1712 - 1793) is another prominent contemporary of Canaletto. He created almost fantastic views of Venice, reminiscent of the city's glorious past. The main difference between him and Canaletto is that he omit the transparent representation of the atmosphere. Guardi is more lyrical and melancholic in his vedute of Venice than Canaletto.
 
The exhibition at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is divided into three sections, comprising some 100 works of which 55 are by Canaletto. The first section opens with 31 etchings by Antonio Canal, made between 1740 and 1745, in which capriccios alternate with views of Venice and its surroundings. Breaking away from his predecessors, Canaletto combined the topographical view, the capriccio of ruins and the landscape capriccio. 

The second and central section is devoted to oil paintings. The capriccios juxtapose Venetian and Roman classical architectural motifs in a poetic atmosphere. This part of the exhibition allows for comparison since it includes also the works of Canaletto's contemporaries Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi, Bernardo Canal and Bernardo Bellotto. Therefore, it is possible to compare different interpretations of the same places.
 
The third section is dedicated to etchings by Antonio Visentini (1688-1782) from the Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus Celebriores which reproduce Canaletto's most famous and exact views of Venice painted between 1725 and 1740. The 38 prints are divided into two series. The first takes the form of a route along the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge to the Punta della Dogana and from Rialto to the North entrance; the second crosses the city from the northern entrance to the Piazza San Marco. The last 12 prints illustre smaller squares in the city. These etchings helped to promote Canaletto internationally and changed the world's image of Venice.
 
Exhibition catalogue: Canaletto - Una Venecia Imaginaria, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid, by Darío Succi and Annalia Delneri, 283 p. (in Spanish). This article is based on the museum's catalogue. Exhibition: until September 2, 2001. For the website of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: Artlinks. For more articles: Art. For information on the art market check the world's leader Artprice.
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 18, August 2001
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  All Previous Articles
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.