Whenever I visit an art gallery, I like to play a game that I call Canaletto hunting
I will preface all of this with the disclaimer that I am as far from an expert on art or art history as you can get, and this will probably be reflected in my non-technical style of writing. However, I do enjoy visiting art galleries when I get the chance, mainly to get a sense of awe.
Who was Canaletto? Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697 - 1768) was a Venitian painter famous for capturing striking scenes of Venice (and other cities when visiting). These paintings were particularly popular amongst rich visitors to the city, and as a result, a few centuries later, his works can be found in most major galleries. The reason I am drawn to these paintings is because, from my perspective, they act as a form of postcard for the incredibly rich. Having visited Venice in the summer of 2022, it is also nice to compare the centuries of difference (or, in most cases, similarity).
Now for the fun part, below I will compile a list of my Canaletto finds, updating it as I visit new galleries. I'll only post a couple of photos per gallery, since posting each individual piece would likely clutter the page. If you want to see the full collection, I encourage you to visit the galleries in person!
Scottish National Gallery - Edinburgh
My first recorded encounter with Canaletto's work took place on the 9th of January 2022 in the Scottish National Gallery. Here we see two views taken at 180 degrees (pi radians) from the same spot. Dominating the left painting is Palazzo Ducale, originally built in 1340 it was the former residence of the Venitian Doge. Sat in front of the palace is the Lion of Venice, the original ancient statue that became the main symbol of the city (this is the same winged lion you may find on the flag of Venice). On the right-hand, sat modestly in the background, is the Santa Maria della Salute, an astonishing Roman Catholic Church, completed in 1687. We can compare the first painting of Palazo Ducale to a view from (almost) the exact same spot when I visited Venice 6th April 2022. As hinted at within the introduction, nothing much has changed.
Pinacoteca di Brera - Milan
Here, the left-hand picture offers a view of Piazza San Marco from across the water, likely on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Here we see St Mark's Campanile, and peaking from behind, Basilica di San Marco.
Accademia Carrara - Bergamo
The National Gallery - London
The Zwinger - Dresden
Recently, I was in Dresden for the DPG Spring meeting of the Condensed Matter section (SKM). After a week of rich Physics, I took the opportunity to explore the city further than the surface I had scratched during my downtime. This involved visiting the Zwinger palace. It was here that I learned of another artist by the name of Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, the nephew of Giovanni Antonio Canal.
Thanks to Bellotto, we have an opportunity to compare the Frauenkirche, the church that dominates the skyline of Dresden, both prior to its total destruction during the bombing of Dresden at the end of the second world war, and after its reconstruction (completed in 2005).
In the foreground is the Johanneum, now home to the Dresden transport museum.
We can compare this with the Frauenkirche in its reconstructed state.
Stay tuned for more...