(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
Grand Canal: Looking from Palazzo Balbic. 1726
Oil on canvas, 150 x 197 cm
In Canaletto's day, the only crossing that spanned the largest waterway in Venice was the imposing Rialto Bridge, which consequently became the hub of both business life and traffic and a point of orientation amid the confusion of Venice's smaller canals and alleys. The artist shows the bridge in the veduta that looks out to the north-east from Palazzo Balbi.
Canaletto shows on the far left a section of the Palazzo Balbi, to the right the Palazzo Contarini dalle Figure and the four palazzi of the Mocenigo family. In the distance we can see the Rialto Bridge, and beyond that to the right the roof of the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. In none of his other vedute has Canaletto placed such a curiously manned gondola in the foreground: the vessel, decorated with green twigs, contains two figures in Commedia dell'Arte costumes who seem to have escaped from the stage. The gondola, readied for a delightful picnic trip, is the scene of a marital drama, for the ugly old woman is clearly beating the man over his pointed hat with her oar, as he holds a tightly bundled infant out to her imploringly.