(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
London: Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thamesc. 1753
Oil on canvas, 66 x 112,5 cm
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
The Royal Hospital at Greenwich was completed in 1752, over half a century after it was begun. Canaletto painted this depiction of it soon afterwards. It shows the view, which has altered little, through the centre of the hospital complex to the Queen's House, and on towards the Royal Observatory at the top of the hill beyond.
Canaletto has created a slightly 'wide angle' effect by combining what can be seen of the hospital from two separate viewpoints which are set a little way apart on the near side of the Thames. He has slightly broken the potential symmetry of the composition by studying the buildings from a little left of centre. In addition, the monotony of the river is relieved by the considerable variety of craft that is travelling up and down it, and also by the unrelenting verticals and horizontals of the design which are countered by the bold diagonal of the mast of the ship grounded at the right.
The river and architecture were established first by the artist, and the boats then painted over the top; it is just possible to see the buildings through the sails of the boat to the left of the centre of the picture.