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

London: Ranelagh, Interior of the Rotunda

Oil on canvas, 46 x 75,5 cm
National Gallery, London

In the eighteenth century there were two main pleasure gardens in London - at Vauxhall and Ranelagh. The latter, which was situated in Chelsea, was regarded as the more respectable. Among its attractions was this Rotunda, which served as a public venue for various forms of entertainment. It became a fashionable place to dine, converse and listen to music, and Mozart performed there in 1764. Canaletto shows numerous groups of elegantly dressed figures either gossiping and creating their own amusement, or concentrating on the orchestra at the left.

This picture was painted for Thomas Hollis, a significant patron of Canaletto, who owned nine works by him. On the reverse it bears an inscription, which when translated from the Italian reads 'Made in the year 1754 in London for the first and last time with the utmost care at the request of Mr. Hollis, my most esteemed patron - Antonio del Canal, called Canaletto.' It may well be the case that Hollis requested that the canvas be inscribed in this way in order to certify its authenticity.