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

Perspective View with Portico

1765
Oil on canvas, 131 x 93 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

If the attention of Rosalba Carriera and Pietro Longhi was drawn to the life and customs of their own day, Canaletto left for posterity a panorama of the colourfully spectacular public life of Venice, all registered in his precisely drawn and perspectively accurate scenes. He soon turned his back on the confident virtuoso displays of scenery painting and designing which he had been given a start in by his father Bernardo. And after a period in Rome where he was struck more by the objective reporting of reality by Viviano Coduzzi and painters from the Netherlands like Berkheyde than the decorative vivacity of Pannini and Van Wittel, Canaletto applied himself to setting onto canvas scenes from Venice as later he was to paint views of London and the English countryside. In these paintings he conceded nothing to the episodic and the picturesque and concentrated his clearsighted vision instead on creating a space-light synthesis of extraordinary truthfulness.

The Perspective - donated by Canaletto to the Accademia in 1765 for his admission in the capacity of a painter of perspective in September, 1763 - is a fine example of his extraordinary recreation of real data in prodigiously stylized form. Even though here the subject is drawn from the imagination, each architectural detail is a fascinating concentration of images.