Canaletto, Antonio

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Canaletto, Antonio (1697-1768): Italian Painter.

Antonio Canaletto was born Giovanni Antonio Canal in Venice, Italy. In 1716 he trained under his father, a set designer and scene painter. When he visited Rome in 1719, however, he abandoned stage painting and began his career as a view painter (vedute). In 1722 he became known as Canaletto. He was influenced by Luca Carlevaris and it was said in 1725 that he had surpassed him with his understanding of light. His work was known for its truth and freshness based on direct observation of the external. Since representation of ideal structure was valued at the time, Venetians saw his work as merely imitative and lacking in intellectual power. In 1746 he moved to London where the aristocracy had an enthusiastic appetite for his view paintings of Venice. Unfortunately, in London there was a growing resentment of foreign artists. Although his English view paintings were well composed, he failed in the eyes of some, to capture the atmosphere of London the way he had so masterfully done of Venice. He was criticized for his high prices and he eventually returned to Venice in 1756. Venice was not as fashionable, though, and he was no longer able to charge as much. In 1763, however, he was elected into the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts.

Canaletto's work was known for its dramatic, luminous light, precise detail and poetic use of his imagination. His work was an important influence on 19th century landscape painting.

Further Reading:

J. G. Links, Canaletto, 1994.

Leah Sumner