(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
Capriccio: The Ponte della Pescaria and Buildings on the Quay1742-44
Oil on canvas, 84,5 x 129,5 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor
In the early 1740s Canaletto painted a series of 13 canvases which were described in early inventories as 'overdoors', in other words pictures intended to be set above doorways as part of a decorative scheme. They placed a particular emphasis on the works of the architect Palladio. Joseph Smith, for whom they may have been made, is known to have particularly favoured Palladian themes.
This austere capriccio is actually one of weakest of the 'overdoors' in terms of quality, but nonetheless of interest. The very fact that it is poorly executed is a useful reminder of Canaletto's practice of employing assistants; he would probably have planned the composition, and then perhaps because of a need to finish the commission quickly allowed a member of his studio to carry out most of the work.
The view is shown as though seen from the Bacino: at the left are the state granaries, and to the right the Zecca, or Mint. Between them is the Ponte della Pescaria, and beyond, the rear of the Procuratie Nuove. The artist has made the little bridge look more theatrical and impressive by depicting on it statues by Aspetti and Campagna which are in reality at the entrance to the Biblioteca Marciana.