Friday, 28 October 2011
The Venetian artist known as Canaletto was born on this day in 1697. His beautiful early painting, A Stonemason's Yard (above) is one of the lesser delights of the National Gallery. But for myself - speaking as an ardent lover of Venice - I find most of his later, more developed view paintings oddly unexpressive of what is so magically different about that city; Canaletto - unlike the bolder, freer Guardi - could be painting anywhere. Indeed the Canaletto style proved equally applicable to London and other English scenes when he came over here (having long been popular with English milords and Grand Tourists). It wasn't so much that he made London look like Venice, or Venice look like London - more that he made everywhere look like a Canaletto painting. During his English years his style became so tired and mechanical that the connoisseur George Vertue accused him of being an impostor. So poor Canaletto had to stage public painting demonstrations to prove that he was indeed Canaletto. He had come a long way from the Stonemason's Yard.