Style Change

Beginning of Canaletto's approval by the Art Buyers

After Canaletto had returned from his last theater works in Rome, and had "solemnly excommunicated" theater work, he started experimenting for his future career as a "vedutista", a view painter.

As Anton Maria Zanetti stated - already before going back to Rome in 1719 - Canaletto was "annoiato dalla indiscretezza de’ Poeti drammatici " (bored by the inconsistency of the dramatic Poets).

It is very likely that Canaletto's contact with the art which was flourishing in Rome at the time - 1720, because of the magic of the city itself an a great number of rich tourists from the Grand Tour and foreign diplomats coming and going from Venice - lead to create and nurture in him the enthusiasm he started to put into his Capricci and view painting.

Canaletto was using Rome settings at the beginning, but later on moved on painting Venice's water landscapes and geometries.

Some historians suggest that Canaletto had taken "the view painting idea" from artists such Gaspar Van Wittel and Giovanni Paolo Panini.

Gaspar Van Wittel almost for sure could have been an inspiration for Canaletto, as he was already a big name in Rome by 1720 - he was 67 years old by then - and had been living and operating his painting business in the city in the last 46 years, since 1674.

But I wouldn't be so sure to affirm Panini's influence - as they were almost the same age: Canaletto was born in 1697, Panini in 1691 - but especially because, going through the Panini's extensive painting production I have been able to find on the web, and Panini's biography, there is almost no known work being done before 1727.

By then Canaletto was already back to Venice since a long time, and quite involved in his own experimentation and production, and was getting close to the style for which he became famous at the time, and we know and appreciate nowadays.

Canaletto started out in 1723 proposing some very dramatic atmospheres in his paintings of Rome and Venice, and was experimenting in that direction.

As that was where the tendency of portraying Venice was going, he tried first in the style of Luca Carlevarijs and his intense and very dramatic skies.

And all along his career he used Calevarjis "framings" and perspective style to propose his painting ideas.

The art market was maybe ready to accept new entries, it always is, and Owen Swiny - a failed theater manager of Irish origins - was already Canaletto's main agent in 1727, and was keeping contacts with British art buyers, where the money would come from.

So it is very likely that the requirements from the prospective buyers pushed Canaletto to operate a change of style, and to start researching in the "solar" atmospheres as his committents would require.

His art shows that it is by the end of the 1720s that Canaletto changes his style from the more dramatically lighted atmospheres with strong colors to a more natural and luminous representation of the Venetian city, people and landscapes.

At this point Canaletto is finally taking the place of Luca Carlevarijs, who, until then, was considered the “Venetian view painter for excellence” and who was getting old.

Carlevarijs would die in 1730 - 67 years old by then - and the tradition says that the grief from having lost his recognition as "the best Venetian painter" lead him to a premature death ...

 

Canaletto's Dramatic Style (1720-ca.1725)

Canaletto:  [ca. 1724] - Il rio dei Mendicanti (River of Mendicanti) - Oil on canvas - Ca' Rezzonico, Venezia
Canaletto: [ca. 1724] - "Il rio dei Mendicanti" (River of Mendicanti)
Oil on canvas - Ca' Rezzonico, Venezia - size (HxW): 143x200 cm

Canaletto's Solar Style (after ca.1725-26)

Canaletto:  [late 1720s] - Piazza San Marco - Oil on canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Canaletto: [late 1720s] - Piazza San Marco
Oil on canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - size (HxW): 68.6x112.4 cm

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