Giovanni Antonio Canal called Canaletto - inv. 3198

Giovanni Antonio Canal called Canaletto (1697-1768)

Architectural Caprice with Classical Ruins and Buildings
1756 c.
91 x 124,8 cm
1933 acquisition 
Inv. 3198

18th Century Venetian Room
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Backed probably at the beginning of the 20th century and restored in 2003, the canvas is in good condition.
As well as vedute, of which he was one of the greatest and most sensitive interpreters, Canaletto also devoted himself to caprices. In this type of painting, classical buildings, often in ruins, sometimes existing but also quite imaginary, were freely placed together. This genre was much requested by both Italian and European patrons and these canvases with ideal views were often produced in pairs of the same subject.

A large ruined arch and loggia stand in the foreground under which there is a Renaissance funeral monument and an inscription that a man, leaning against a column, is trying to decipher. Other people are depicted on the right of the arch, perhaps shepherds, with long sticks and a dog. Another circular building stands on the right, impossible to date. There is a triumphal arch in the background that recalls the Gate of San Giovanni in Padua, together with a Baroque fountain and a city with a great dome. The sky is clear with just a few clouds in the left. The play of light illuminating the second arch and leaving part of the funeral monument and the first arch in shadow is very beautiful.
This painting is one of Canaletto’s most admired ideal views, so much so that many replicas and copies were made. The work’s great quality confirms attribution to the Venetian painter, even if certain critics have suggested the hand of an assistant in the perspective view of the background. The work dates to a late stage in the master’s career, about 1756.