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

Capriccio: The Grand Canal, with an Imaginary Rialto Bridge and Other Buildings

Oil on canvas, 60 x 82 cm
Galleria Nazionale, Parma

In this work and its companion picture (Capriccio: A Palladian Design for the Rialto Bridge, also in Parma) Canaletto created two of his most complex and intriguing capricci. He had already depicted an unrealised scheme for the Rialto Bridge, but in these works went one stage further and painted alternatives to the actual bridge surrounded by a sophisticated and extensive group of invented buildings.

The bridge and extraordinary circular temple at the left appear to be almost entirely imaginary. Such spectacular flights of fancy may at root be based on reminiscences of details in works by Claude Lorraine (1600-82) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), but Canaletto has transformed possible sources of this type into a decorative creation all of his own.