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

London: Westminster Bridge from the North on Lord Mayor's Day

Oil on canvas, 96 x 137,5 cm
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven

Canaletto is first recorded in England in spring 1746, and his earliest paintings of London are depictions of the new Westminster Bridge, a subject he was to portray from various vantage points. The bridge was not actually completed until four years after this work was painted.

In this picture he combines a view of its whole span with a depiction of festivities, which, although tamer than the Venetian spectacles he generally painted, partially recall them. The celebrations accompanied the appointment of the new Lord Mayor of London. The largest City Barge is shown taking him to Westminster Hall, by the Abbey at the right, where he will be sworn in. The prominent building on the horizon to the left of it is St John's Church, Smith Square, and over on the other side of the river is Lambeth Palace, the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. All the other spectacular barges are those of the different city guilds (Skinners, Goldsmiths, Fishmongers, Clothworkers, Vinters, Merchant Taylors, Mercers and Dyers); a number of them are firing salutes to honour the Mayor. In order to encapsulate all of this activity within such a broad panorama Canaletto has adopted an imaginary vantage point high above the Thames.