This painting is called a 'capriccio’, an imaginary scene based on fact. It combines buildings found on the Venetian Lagoon and while the distant church suggests the Venice skyline, it is not an accurate depiction of Santa Maria della Salute. Bernardo Bellotto was the nephew of Giovanni Antonio Canal, commonly called Canaletto, and entered his uncle's studio at about the age of 15. Canaletto was probably at his busiest in the mid-1730s and the help of this talented young relation must have been welcome. Bellotto's earliest Venetian views are virtually indistinguishable from his uncle's work but in this painting and its companion, made towards the end of his apprenticeship, characteristics of his own mature style are apparent. Although they are very closely based on known compositional views by Canaletto, the cooler and more atmospheric colour and the almost calligraphic notation used for vegetation (on the right in both paintings) are distinctively the work of Bellotto. Bellotto left Venice for ever in 1747. He worked as a court painter in Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw, painting dazzling views which are often considered to surpass his master's work.
Where to see this painting?
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Queens Road, Bristol, Bristol, England, BS8 1RL
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.
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