Giovanni Antonio Canal called Canaletto - inv. 321

Giovanni Antonio Canal called Canaletto (1697-1768)

Pra' della Valle in Padua
oil on canvas  
39 x 87,5 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 321

18th Century Venetian Room
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This picture was realised between 1741 and 1746 and represents the meadow in the valley of Padua, as it used to look before it a monumental restoration in 1775-1776.
The square, which is covered by grass, is framed by the buildings on the sides of the canvas, among which the most imposing are the Church of Santa Giustina on the left, and the University College on the right.
The work fully embodies the characteristics of Venetian view painting, for both nature and architecture co-exist in the meadow. Although many human figures inhabit the square, the true animating element of the painting is the light, which illuminates the scene and creates a dynamic game of light and shadows.

This work is an excellent example of Venetian views painting, which as a genre found in Canaletto, one of its greatest interpreters.
The artist was highly interested in the exact representation of reality; to this aim, his scientific analysis was facilitated by the use of an instrument that the artist himself realised, namely the camera lucida.
 Through this portable machine it was possible to capture the image of the sight by a system of mirrors and convex lenses, and then to project it on a paper.
Thus Canaletto was able to immediately draw the preliminary sketches in the open air, and then paint the definitive picture in his studio. One of the preparatory drawings for the Meadow in the Valley of Padua is now conserved in the Windsor Royal collections.