LONDON: (1746-55)

Canaletto moves on

Canaletto moves to England by the end of May 1746, carrying a letter of introduction of the British Consul in Venice Joseph Smith (art collector and main business provider for Canaletto) to Owen Swiny (important art dealer at this time) asking him to introduce Canaletto to the Duke of Richmond.

Owen Swiny relays on more than 20 years of trust from the Duke about providing him with art objects, and they share interests in Music and Theater, they are close, their correspondence is quite intense: contact is made.

Why Canaletto in London?

One of the reasons for Canaletto's moving to England could also have been caused by the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), which drastically reduced the number of visitors all over Europe and to Venice in particular.

This tourist inflow was known as the "Grand Tour", where young nobles were taken around Europe by a relative or an experienced valet, and Italy was a special destination, because of its beauty, History and Art.

Those were the tourists in those times, and Venice was quite renown and appreciated.

... and ... six degrees of separation?

George Vertue (1684-1756, British engraver and chronicler of London artistic events, renown source of information through his Note Books about Canaletto's stay in England in the period 1746-51) gave a possible explanation.

It had been very likely that Jacopo (or Giacomo) Amigoni (Venice 1682 [or 1685] - Madrid 1752) a Venetian portrait painter who was moving around Europe quite a bit, and had already lived in England ten years, in the period 1729-39, and making good money too, persuaded Canaletto into moving there as well, to make a good business like he had done.

There is no historical evidence of this contact, but good assumptions lead to this possibility:

- Amigoni was the portraitist painter and friend of the quite famous Opera singer Farinelli.
- Farinelli in turn had contacts with Owen Swiny and the Consul Joseph Smith and other Opera enthusiasts, among them other buyers of Canaletto paintings.

The idea of the "six degrees of separation" was very likely true also back in the XVIII century.

(Six degrees of separation comes from the idea of a chain of "friend of a friend", about which Frigyes Karinthy first talks in his 1929 short story "Chains", and more recently has become known because of the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon").

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