(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
Capriccio: River Landscape with a Columnc. 1754
Oil on canvas, 132 x 104 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
This is another fine example of the type of capricci Canaletto executed during his sojourn in England. It is one of a group of paintings known as the 'Lovelace Canalettos', so-called because they were sold in 1937 by the Earl of Lovelace. He had inherited them from Lord King who probably acquired them in the eighteenth century for his home, Ockham Place in Surrey.
This work is an ingenious combination of Italian and English influences - a fitting project for Canaletto to work on prior to his final return to Venice, after having spent nearly a decade in England. The general disposition of the hilly landscape and the vegetation appear English, and a bridge inspired by Westminster Bridge has been placed in the middle distance. The Corinthian column, however, decorated with an escutcheon and surmounted by a statue of a saint, and the triumphal arch, are clearly Italianate. The juxtaposition of these two sets of references cleverly and subtly encourages you to question what is real, and what is imagined.