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

Piazza San Marco: Looking East from the South West Corner

c. 1760
Oil on canvas, 45 x 35 cm
National Gallery, London

The Campanile and San Marco are here seen from beneath the colonnade of the Procuratie Nuove, but it is not these architectural features which first draw your attention to the picture; it is more likely to be the figures in the foreground. Two seated men converse, while a third who stands to the right of them, holding a coffee cup, listens. He has presumably wandered from the nearby, although unseen, Cafe Florian, a famous centre of social life, which had been founded in 1720, and is still open.

A particularly attractive contemporary drawing, which can be associated with the composition (Royal Collection, Windsor), shows the view extending some way towards the left, so that it is possible to see the Torre dell'Orologio. This worked up sketch probably preceded the painting and a group of other related works by Canaletto.