(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)

London: The Thames and the City of London from Richmond House

Oil on canvas, 105 x 117,5 cm
Private collection

The majestic sweep of the river, leading to a skyline dominated by St Paul's Cathedral, forms the focus of this canvas, which was made as a companion picture for The Whitehall and the Privy Garden from Richmond House. Canaletto has succeeded in creating an extraordinary sense of spaciousness: with the combination of calm water, bright clear morning light and an untroubled sky, he has brought to the London scene some of that clarity of vision, and pleasure in celebrating the attractions of a great city that he had earlier applied to Venice.

The terraces in the foreground belong to Richmond House and, at the left, Montagu House. The figures on them parade, converse, and in a leisurely manner watch the spectacle of the river in the sunshine. While a number of smaller boats skull about on it, two larger decorated barges belonging to the City of London, make their way upstream. A related drawing of the scene shows a broader view, with far more traffic on the Thames.

The vertical emphases of the church spires, chimneys at the left, and mooring posts in the foreground, all carefully anchor and balance the composition, which is principally ordered by the horizon and gentle diagonals of the river bank.