Depicting a corner of the Piazzetta and the quay of the Dogana, Venice, the present pair of small pictures is freely painted with bold areas of impasto, especially in the highlights. That the Quay of the Dogana bears an early, probably 18th century, inscription on a label on the reverse \"Canaletto.fe\" makes it all the more surprising that both paintings were attributed first to Guardi and then to Bellotto in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the attribution was not questioned by Constable, it was considered less than certain when Christie's catalogued the paintings for sale in 1985. Nevertheless, such doubts were withdrawn before the sale, as the attribution was enthusiastically endorsed by Byam Shaw and others. In the Piazzetta, the southwest corner of the Ducal Palace is visble to the left, while in the immediate right foreground there is a partial view of the column of Saint Theodore. Canaletto has depicted the column of Saint Mark, with its winged lion, just to the right of center, with the Riva degli Schiavoni beyond. The composition is balanced by two figures, bathed in sunlight, standing in conversation at the center of the plaza, while a larger group, in shadow, stands to the left. In the Quay of the Dogana, the portico and the end of the quay dominate the foreground, with small craft, including a sailboat with a vibrant yellow and red striped canopy, moored alongside. Two figures converse on the quay while others attend to the boats and rest alongside the building. In the distance, the Giudecca, with the Chiesa della Croce, the Redentore and S. Giacomo (now destroyed) appear from left to right on the skyline. The calm waters and hazy atmospheric effects in both works suggest a warm summer's day. The composition seems to relate to another, larger composition in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (inv. no. GG_6331), dated to circa 1724-1730. In the present painting, Constable notes that the portico of the Dogana is shown as supported by two columns without the two piers which in reality flank them. He also states that the lion of Saint Mark is facing the wrong way, suggesting that \"it is significant that both pictures have topographical blunders, rare in Canaletto's work\" (Constable, op. cit. p. 261). In fact, the lion of Saint Mark is not facing the wrong way, and the taking of liberties over topographical accuracy is characteristic of Canaletto's oeuvre, as he regularly alters or supresses features of the cityscape and architecture in his images. Given the unusually sketchy execution of these works, perhaps only seen elsewhere in Canaletto's work in The Puppet Show in the Piazzetta (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, inv. no. A147), it is tempting to see in them a plein air execution. Such a hypothesis must be made extremely carefully, however, especially given the fact that no confirmed examples of plein air painting are known in Canaletto's oeuvre. Nevertheless, their painterly finish, atmospheric handling, and the low, street-level view points do evoke an artist working in situ. The small scale of both works also lends credence to this conjecture, as they could have been easily transported from studio to location and back again. In the Piazzetta especially, the rapid, sketch-like execution can be observed in the uppermost level of the Doge's Palace, the corner of which seems to be dematerializing into the atmosphere. Whether actually executed en plein air, or sketched out of doors and finished in the studio, the immediacy of the present works is particularly appealing to the modern viewer.Constable, who saw these paintings on 6 June 1950, incorrectly stated that they are painted on panel. In fact, they are on canvas, which was likely laid down on soft wood (probably pine) panels before the execution of the paintings. There are no other instances of Canaletto using such a support, although he did occasionally use mahogany panel as a support during his time in London. While Constable did not suggest a date for these works, Puppi's proposed dating to 1740-1745 is certainly too late, and Mariuz's of 1731-1746 is probably also slightly too late. Charles Beddington has suggested that dating them to the late 1720s seems most probable based on stylistic comparisons to other works from this period. We are grateful to Charles Beddington for his assistance in the cataloguing of the present lot.
Sometime before 1728, Canaletto began his association with Joseph Smith, an English businessman and collector living in Venice, who was to become the artist's principal agent and patron. Smith eventually acquired nearly fifty paintings, one hundred fifty drawings, and fifteen rare etchings from Canaletto, the largest and finest single group of the artist's works, that he sold to King George III in 1763. The publication in 1735 of Antonio Visentini's engravings after twelve views of the Grand Canal (Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum), which Smith had commissioned from Canaletto around 1730, did much to arouse enthusiasm for the artist among the English, and during the next decade a large number of Canaletto's paintings entered English collections under Smith's auspices. The period between 1730 and 1742 was the most productive of Canaletto's career; it was in these years that almost all of the paintings of Venice by which he is best known were completed and during which he produced much of his best work. In this, the second period of his career, Canaletto's chief aim was to present an accurate and detailed record of a particular scene, and he captured the light, the life, and the buildings of Venice in these years with a perceptiveness and luminosity that established his reputation as one of the greatest topographical painters of all time.
The outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1741 significantly disrupted the flow of foreign visitors to Venice, and the demand for Canaletto's work on the part of the English declined considerably. Joseph Smith encouraged the artist to devote more time to drawing and to take up etching, which formed a small but significant part of his artistic activity. After Smith's appointment as British Consul in Venice in 1744, a volume of Canaletto's etchings was published as Vedute altre prese da i luoghi altre ideate. In 1740 and 1741 Canaletto left Venice on a tour of the Brenta and the mainland and made a number of drawings on the spot which served as the source for paintings and particularly etchings which he produced in the studio upon his return. He was accompanied on this trip by Bernardo Bellotto, the son of his sister Fiorenza, who had been in his studio since about 1735 and must have played an increasing role in the production of the studio.
In spite of Canaletto's success with the English and other foreign patrons, contemporary Venetians appear to have held his view painting in low esteem: none of his patrons was Venetian, and he was not elected to the Venetian academy until 1763, following a previous refusal. In the traditional view, Canaletto's paintings after 1756 seldom display the imagination and technical skill, the freshness and vitality of his earlier work. In fact, he produced pictures of high quality in his last years, like the architectural capriccio of the interior of the courtyard of a palace (Galleria Accademia, Venice), an exercise in perspective that he gave the Academy in 1765 as his reception piece. In August 1767 he attended a meeting of the Academy. Seven months later, on April 19, 1768, Canaletto died of inflammation of the bladder and was buried in Venice. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
The Kress Collection encompasses more than 3,000 works of European art, and is distinguished for its abundance of Italian Renaissance paintings. The Collection was donated to scores of regional and academic art museums.
(1) Catalogue by F. R. Shapley, 1960, p. 74, as Canaletto. (2) K1805 has been attributed to Canaletto by R. Longhi (in ms. opinion), dating it c. 1750; B. Berenson (in ms. opinion); Suida (loc. cit. in note 6, below), accepting Longhi's date, c. 1750; V. Moschini (Canaletto, 1954, pls. 108 f.), grouping it with paintings of c. 1740; and tentatively by L. Puppi (The Complete Paintings of Canaletto, 1970, no. 181). W. G. Constable (in ms. opinion, 1954, and Canaletto, vol. II, 1962, no. 61) considers it studio work and favors a date in the 1740's. (3) See note 2, above. (4) Reproduced by Constable, vol. I, no. 58, pl. 22 of op. cit. in note 2, above. (5) The Robinson ownership, which is cited in the catalogue of the 1929 sale listed under Provenance, has not been traced; Constable (loc. cit. in note 2, above) asks whether J. C. Robinson is indicated. (6) Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection, 1951, p. 162 (catalogue by W. E. Suida), as Canaletto, c. 1750.
The majority of the drawings in this exhibition are independent works of art, rather than studies for paintings. They were drawn in Canalettos studio, either on the basis of detailed studies made on the spot the same studies that also served for Canalettos paintings or as imaginary compositions.
This painting is part of a series of small Venetian views that were originally in the collection of Prince Josef Wenzel of Liechtenstein (1696-1772).BibliographyDescription des tableaux et des pièces de sculpture que renferme la gallerie de son Altesse Francois Joseph, Chef et Prince Regnant de la Maison de Liechtenstein, Vienna, 1780, p. 74.Katalog der Fürstlich Liechtensteinischen Bildergalerie im Gartenpalais der Rossau zu Wien, Vienna, 1873, p. 69, no. 591.Ferrari, G., I due Canaletto, Turin, 1920, pl. 14.Kronfeld, A., Führer durch die Fürstlich Liechtensteinische Gemäldegalerie in Wien, Vienna, 1927, no. 199.Godwin, Molly Ohl, \"Capolavori italiani al 'Toledo Museum of Art,'\" Le Vie Del Mondo, vol. 14, 1952, p. 1156, repr. p. 1154.Toledo Museum of Art Museum News, no. 148, October 1953, repr.Constable, W. G., Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768, Oxford, 1962, I, p. 112, n. 2, and pl. 30, no. 118, II, no. 118.Links, J. G., \"The View Paintings Return to Venice,\" Burlington Magazine, vol. 109, no. 773, Aug. 1967, p. 457.Rey, Jean-Dominique, \"Le Tour des Exposition,\" Jardin des Arts, no. 156, Nov. 1967, repr. 64.Briganti, Giuliano, I Vedutisti, Milano, Bompiani/electa, 1968, repr. (det., col.), tav. 54.Puppi, L., The Complete Paintings of Canaletto, New York, 1968, p. 92, fig. 35, pl. XXVI.Maxon, John, \"The Golden Afternoon,\" Art Gallery Magazine, vol. 14, no. 1, Oct. 1970, repr. p. 77.Sherrill, Sarah B., \"Current and Coming: More Italian Art,\" Antiques, vol. 99, no. 2, Feb. 1971, repr. p. 174.Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, MA, 1972, p. 43.The Toledo Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collections, Toledo, 1976, repr. p. 47 (col.).The Toledo Museum of Art, The Toledo Museum of Art, European Paintings, Toledo, 1976, p. 34, pl. 37.Magugliani, Lodovico, La pittura del Giovane Canaletto (fino al 1728), Milan, 1976, p. 26.Constable, W.G., Canaletto, 2nd ed., Oxford, 1976, vol. 1, p. 112, n. 3, and pl. 30, vol. II, no. 118, p. 244.Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, New York, 1979, p. 44.Gregory, Howard, Around the World, Then and Now, Redondo Beach, California, 1985, repr. p. 71.Koch-Hillebrecht, Manfred, Museen in den USA: Gemalde, Munich, 1992, p. 232.Agnew's 1892-1992, London, 1992, p. 196, 208, pl. 188, p. 207.Pedrocco, Filippo, Canaletto e i vedutisti veneziani, Milan, 1995, p. 48, fig. 55 (col.), p. 46.\"A Summer of Classical Art at the Hood Museum of Art,\" and \"Fine Arts,\" Upper Valley Magazine, vol. 9, no. 3, May/June 1995, pp. 62, 65, repr. p. 64 (det., col.).Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art Masterworks, Toledo, 2009, p. 195, repr. (col.).Exhibition HistoryDetroit, Detroit Institute of Art, Venice, 1700-1800, 1952, no. 11, repr. Indianapolis, Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1952.Baltimore, Baltimore Museum of Art, Age of Elegance: The Rococo and its Effect, 1959, no. 181.Venice, Palazzo Ducale, I vedutisti veneziani del settecento, 1967, no. 52, repr. and pl. 10 (det.) (cat. by P. Zampetti).Venizia, Direzione Belle Arti, 1967.Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Painting in Italy in the Eighteenth Century: Rococo to Romanticism, 1970, no. 17, repr. (cat. entry by B. Hannegan).Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1970.Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Meadows Museum, 1979. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Canaletto, 1989, no. 54, p. 201, repr. (col.).Hanover, Hood Museum of Art, Two Views of Italy: Master Prints by Canaletto and Piranesi, 1995, no. 32, pp. 15, 18, 71, nos. 4, 93, fig. 3, p. 16.Publication EntryVenice, its light and architecture, its canals and people, was a subject of endless fascination and exploration for Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto. The flicker of light on the water, the stance of the gondoliers, and the clearly delineated buildings against a crisp blue sky demonstrate his passion for recording the details of his native city. Often using a camera obscura (an optical device that uses light and lenses to project an image) as an aid to composition, Caneletto painted his compelling views of Venice primarily for wealthy tourists.In the age of the Grand Tour, when travel to the famous sites of continental Europe marked the finishing touch of every young gentleman's education, art was the ultimate souvenir. Demand rose for paintings of a city or site that were faithful enough to identify the precise location. The son of a prominent designer of theatrical scenery, Canaletto became the most distinguished eighteenth-century Italian painter of these topographical views, or vedute. The Riva degli Schiavoni is the promenade that passes in front of the fourteenth-century pinkish-gold Doge's Palace (residence of the ruler of Venice), at the left, and continues along the waterfront for another half mile. Canaletto's view also features the picturesque Ponte della Paglia (\"straw bridge\"), behind which the famous Bridge of Sighs connecting the Palace with the Prisons can just be seen; the imposing prison building; a group of houses; and the Palazzo Dandolo (today the Hotel Daniele). The painting was one of a series of small Venetian views originally in the collection of Prince Josef Wenzel of Liechtenstein (1696-1772), one of many members of the nobility to commission vedute from Canaletto.On ViewCurrent Location: Toledo Museum of Art (2445 Monroe Street), Gallery, 26, RotundaIn Collection(s)PaintingsHome2445 Monroe Street 59ce067264