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

Capriccio: Ruins and Classic Buildings

Oil on canvas, 87,5 x 120,5 cm
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

Capricci are paintings in which Canaletto drew on his studies of identifiable sites and buildings, but combined them in an imaginative form to create a very consciously fictional and poetic image. Here he has brought together different architectural elements which seem to be both Roman and Paduan in inspiration. The dome on the horizon is reminiscent of that of St Peter's in Rome.

Many versions of this composition exist and not all of them can be by Canaletto. The fact that such images were reproduced illustrates that there was a ready market for works of this type. In part they were inspired by the classical landscapes of the seventeenth century, but they also were conceived to appeal to the cult of ruins which developed during the eighteenth century - a trend fed by antiquarianism, archaeology and nostalgia.