Canaletto in all of his splendour! If you are intending to go to Paris then a visit to the Maillol museum, in the 7th district, to see the incredible Calanetto exhibition is a must . Feast your eyes on an amazing number of paintings, including some of his most well known masterpieces by this eighteenth century Italian master of oil landscapes. Venice and its romance; all its alleys, canals, gondolas and buildings is portrayed in minute detail and transports you back in time to a magnificent city in a splendid era.
Giovanni Antonia Canal, who became known as Canaletto, was born in 1697 and accompanied his father, the theatrical set designer and painter, Antonio Canal on many of his projects. It was from him we think that Canaletto inherited his amazing mastery of perspective. Canaletto often painted several copies of the same view in repetition and his unique ability to convey light in his paintings was legendary. In ‘The basilique of the Salute and the Duane seen from the Cornaro Palace” we see how the church of Salute stands proudly in the centre of the painting as we look out onto the bay of San Gregorio. Canaletto is looking down on the scene and conveys not only an amazing, majestic view of the church but also all the scenes of everyday life occurring around the church; such as the women washing laundry to the left of the painting. We learn how the church was so much part of everyday life in eighteenth century Venice as seen again in, for example, his luminous, small painting, “The Basilique of San Marco”.
The exhibition features not only his famous paintings but also the books, maps and sketches that Canaletto used in preparation for his work. In essence the creative process of the artist is recorded in minute detail. We learn that many of his paintings were drawn from memory with heavy use on elaborate drawings and sketches. My favourite painting in the exhibition is The bridge of Realtor. Here we see a cacophony of details of everyday life such as a dog barking and a parrot flying in the nearby street. But above all is the luminous light of the water and the bridge standing proud; a vital building in the life of Venice at the time. Canaletto executes scenes of the everyday with accuracy, precision and luminosity. We see in the exhibition how each painting is different, is unique in its own right whilst also belonging to the hand of this great master. Canaletto did not romanticise his art but painted what he saw – an accurate portrayal of a specific time and place.
The show is incredible in the breadth of paintings it exhibits and the details of Canaletto’s prolific career. It is a monumental undertaking and one that has been achieved with amazing precision
It should certainly be at the top of your exhibition visit list.
by Larissa Woolf, Arts Editor, www.VisitMuseums.com