1730: Splendor and Fame

Canaletto top view painter in Venice

In the 1730s Canaletto is finally receiving recognition acknowledgment for the beauty of his art.

To this success of course counts quite a bit the work his enthusiastic friend Anton Maria Zanetti the elder and his intermediaries Owen Swiny and the British consul Joseph Smith that created a market for him in Italy and England.

It is known that Joseph Smith made significant profits selling Canaletto's works.

They passed around the known art collector and Nobility sphere the word: "A star is born" in painting beautiful views of Venice.

Some commentaries are recorded about the way Canaletto leads his business:
Charles de Brosses (1709-77) in a letter to M. de Neuilly dated 24 November 1739, comments:

"Pour le Canaletto, son métier est de peindre des vues de Venise; en ce genre, il surpasse tout ce qu'il y a jamais eu. Sa manière est claire, gaie, vive, perspective et d'un détail admirable. Les Anglois ont si bien gâté cet ouvrier, en lui offrant de ses tableaux trois fois plus qu'il n'en demande, qu'il n'est plus possible de faire marché avec lui."

"As for Canaletto, his work consists of painting views of Venice, and in this genre, he surpasses anything that has ever been done. His style is clear, gay, vivid, with true perspective and admirable detail. The English have so spoiled him, offering him three times what he asks for his paintings, that it is no longer possible to do business with him."

About Canaletto, comments
from his patron Owen Swiny

His patron Owen Swiny more than once made some harsh commentaries concerning Canaletto in his letters. Was it some selling tecnique, to manipulate the customers ?
No idea.

Here is one comment taken from a letter he wrote in 1727 to the 2nd Duke of Richmond :

"The fellow is whimsical and varys his prices, every day: and he that has a mind to have any of his work, must not seem to be too fond of it, for he’l be ye worse treated for it, both in the price and the painting too."

And while reporting in 1727 to the Duke of Richmond, about two paintings that Canaletto is taking too much time to deliver:

"He's a very difficult person, and changes his prices every day; and if one wants a picture from him, he should be very careful not to seem too anxious, because he risks losing out in terms both of price and quality. Canaletto has many more commissions than he should accept."

Again in 1730 Owen Swiny comes out with another harsh comment about Canaletto in a letter to London client John Conduitt:

"He is a covetous, greedy fellow & because he is in reputation people are glad to get any thing & at his own price."

We can say that Canaletto's class, at this time, is already quite recognized, and the old traditional Venice view painter (Luca Carlevarijs) who has abandoned his activity and is said to have died in 1730 from the despair of having been set aside by Canaletto's success.

 

Canaletto:  [late 1720s] - View of the Grand Canal - Oil on canvas - Birmingham Museum of Art
Canaletto: [late 1720s] - View of the Grand Canal
Oil on canvas - Birmingham Museum of Art - size (HxW): 60.3x100.3 cm

Canaletto:  [1734-35] - View of the Rialto Bridge from the North - Oil on canvas - Sir John Soane's Museum
Canaletto: [1734-35] - View of the Rialto Bridge from the North
Oil on canvas - Sir John Soane's Museum - size (HxW): 64.1x109.7 cm


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