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

Regatta on the Canale Grande

c. 1735
Oil on canvas, 117 x 187 cm
National Gallery, London

In this painting, Canaletto shows the Canale Grande teeming with boats, the gondolieri in their traditional costumes, the colourful decorations, the crowds lining the banks of the canal, the flags and pelmets on the windows and balconies. What is more, he conscientiously renders a specific location in Venice, seen from the Ca' Foscari, with its palatial façades, its simple houses, its stairways, rooftops, chimneys and terraces and between them all, the wide, azure expanse of the canal. He is fascinated by the contrast between the momentary pageantry with all its light and colour, its exhilarating presence, and the city itself, steeped in tradition, in which celebration after celebration passes through its ancient walls down the centuries.