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

Old Walton Bridge

Oil on canvas, 48,8 x 76,7 cm
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

This bridge was paid for in 1747 by the Member of Parliament, Samuel Dicker, whose house is among the buildings on the far bank of the Thames, at the left. The view Canaletto has chosen shows the river from the Middlesex, or north side, looking upstream. He has peppered the scene with naturalistic details and human incident: a storm cloud with sheeting rain effectively contrasts with the white latticed wood of the bridge, over which an impressive carriage is drawn; in the foreground the mast of a boat has been lowered so it can travel beneath its arches, and a seated artist, who must be Canaletto himself, is depicted.

Old Walton Bridge was painted for Thomas Hollis; it bears the inscription on the reverse '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.' According to an old catalogue of the Hollis collection the three standing figures to the right of the artist are Hollis himself, his friend Thomas Brand who inherited the painting, and his Italian servant Francesco Giovannini; the little animal between them is Hollis's pet dog, Malta.