(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
London: Westminster Abbey, with a Procession of Knights of the Bath1749
Oil on canvas, 99 x 101,5 cm
Westminster Abbey, London
The Order of the Bath is one of the oldest English chivalric orders; it is thought to have been founded in 1399. Canaletto here has painted the procession of newly installed Knights of the Order from Westminster Abbey to the House of Lords which took place on 20 June 1749. He was commissioned to paint the picture by Joseph Wilcocks, Dean of Westminster, and it has remained since it was executed in the Deanery.
The knights have emerged from the west end of the Abbey and walk round past St Margaret's church, beyond which can be seen the roof of Westminster Hall. The Abbey is shown after its recent restoration and the construction of the two west towers, an undertaking which was carried out by the architects Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir Christopher Wren, and the picture in many ways acts as much as a commemoration of their achievements, as of the ceremony.
Canaletto may have based his depiction of the event on descriptions, rather than actually having witnessed it: the resplendent knights are impressive, but they are rather stilted in arrangement, and their scale in relation to the architecture is not completely convincing.