Canaletto: Celebrating Britain
22 October 2015 - 14 February 2016
Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697-1768), known popularly as Canaletto, is today remembered as one of Italy’s greatest view painters. His images of Venice were particularly popular with the well-bred English gentlemen undertaking the Grand Tour of Europe. When war caused the flow of British visitors to Venice to dry up Canaletto followed his patrons home to Britain, where he stayed for almost nine years from 1746 to 1755.
Through a series of astonishing canvases and drawings, Canaletto celebrated the accomplishment, success and wealth of the rising British nation and its latest achievements in architecture and engineering. By the time of Canaletto’s arrival in London most of the first generation of classical Palladian architects were dead and Britain’s increasing prosperity and confidence allowed for a more eclectic and liberal attitude to its newly-designed buildings.
Canaletto’s London is busy but beautiful with its abundance of new landmarks: Wren’s Baroque churches, the majestic St Paul’s Cathedral and the naval palaces of Greenwich; Hawksmoor’s ‘Gothick’ towers for Westminster Abbey, William Kent’s new Palladian Horse Guards building and the Rococo pleasure gardens at Vauxhall and Ranelagh. The construction of two marvels of engineering, the new bridges across the Thames at Westminster and Walton, is documented in magnificent detail.
This is the first time that these outstanding paintings and drawings by Canaletto have been brought together to provide an overview of the artist’s time in Britain. It features significant works on loan from major collections, including the Royal Collection, the British Museum, Compton Verney and Dulwich Picture Gallery, as well as from private lenders.
The exhibition is curated by Compton Verney’s Director and leading expert Dr Steven Parissien.