London, Venice & back

Working hard and making money

Sir Hugh Smithson (1715-1786) - among other established clients - is one that will make Canaletto work quite a bit in London.

We can follow in several paintings and drawings of the 1750s the recording the progression of an important opera of which Sir Smithson is part of the responsible commission: the new Westminster Bridge in London.

But in March 1751 Canaletto is back to Venice for 8 months, travel included.

He invests 2150 ducati in the Arte del Luganegheri, professional congregation of Venetian charcuterie butchers: this money very likely represents the good earnings he made in England.

 [1748] - Receipt made by Canaletto for a 10 Guineas payment he received from Lord Bruk regarding a small painting he sold him in London
[1748] - Receipt made by Canaletto for a 10 Guineas payment he received from Lord Bruk regarding a small painting he sold him in London

In Venice he continues to work on some of the material he took with him from London: Bridges, Castles, Villas, etc., refines the plates for the etchings he is in the process of doing, and does the last two paintings he the Consul Joseph Smith has commissioned him.

Then Canaletto  returns to England as he still has quite a bit of work to do there, among which the documentation, with paintings and drawings, of the restauration of the Warwick Castle.

Canaletto as both artist and documentation photographer, known for his perfect detailing, and betterment ;-) ... I would say ...

Here we have an interesting commentary by Pietro Guarienti (ca. 1700-65) - a colleague painter and art-biographer of the late-Baroque period, active mainly in Bologna - reported in the "Abecedario pittorico del M.R.P. Pellegrino Antonio Orlandi, bolognese, contenente le notizie de' professori di pittura, scoltura, ed architettura" edited in 1753.

"Fece un viaggio in Londra, dove fermatosi quattro anni, ebbe continuamente occasione da quei Signori di produrre nuovi parti del suo industrioso pennello. Ritornato in patria, dove presentemente trattiensi, portò con sè varj abbozzi delle vedute e dei siti più riguardevoli di quell'ampia Città, i quali con suo comodo è da sperare, ch'ei vorrà consegnare alle tele. Ora nuovamene è ritornato in Londra."

"He made a journey to London, where he stayed four years, and had continually the opportunity from those Lords to produce new deliveries of his industrious brush. Returning to his homeland, where he presently lingers, he brought with him various sketches of the most remarkable views and sites of that vast City, which at his convenience - it is to be hoped - he will wish to deliver to the canvases. Now again he has returned to London."

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