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

Imaginary View of Venice

Etching, 295 x 425 mm
British Museum, London

In the early 1740s Canaletto made an important journey outside of Venice along the Brenta canal with Bellotto towards Padua, and executed a number of drawings that were to form the basis of etchings and paintings. The stimulus of new surroundings seems to have had a very positive effect, because these works, although perhaps his least known, can in some cases be counted as the most innovative and attractive.

The etching in particular are noteworthy. He executed in total 34 plates, probably between 1735 and 1746, and published 31 of them together. The views included depictions of Dolo, Mestre, Padua, Venice and the lagoon - in fact almost the entire range of subjects Canaletto explored on canvas. The artist proved himself as adept at capturing the nuances of atmosphere, texture and visual anecdote in this graphic form, as in his more prolific paintings. But exactly how he learnt the art of etching is not known, he may have been essentially self-taught.