Exhibition | Canaletto: The Triumph of Light

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 3, 2015


Canaletto, Capriccio, A Palladian Design for the Rialto Bridge, with Buildings, 1744, 90 x 130 cm (London: The Royal Collection, RCIN 404029) © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014.

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From the Centre d’Art de l’Hôtel de Caumont:

Canaletto, Rome—Londres—Venise: Le Triomphe de la Lumière
Centre d’Art de l’Hôtel de Caumont, Aix-en-Provence, 6 May — 13 September 2015

Curated by Bozena Anna Kowalczyk

Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto (1697–1768), is recognised as the emblematic figure of the veduta genre, the most admired Venetian artistic creation of the 18th century in Europe. This inaugural exhibition at the art centre of the Hôtel de Caumont aims to provide new insights into the complete works of Canaletto, with a particular interest in the treatment of light in the Venetian master’s paintings. Fifty paintings and drawings from international public and private collections will present Canaletto the man and the different phases of his artistic career, in Rome, London and Venice.

We initially discover Canaletto’s first activity, as a painter of theatre scenery, carried out in collaboration with his father Bernardo Canal and his brother Cristoforo. Opera librettos on which Canaletto’s name appears will be exhibited alongside his first capricci, full of musical influences, painted in 1720–1722, and the first views of Venice, composed according to the criteria for staging.

The exhibition continues with a presentation of the major undertakings of Canaletto’s youth: the views of Venice commissioned by Joseph Smith (1722–1723), Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein (1723) and Stefano Conti (1725–1726), are large scale canvases that bear witness to the skill of the young painter.

Canaletto’s visit to England, his contact with new landscapes and the light of the Thames, led to changes in his palette and his touch. A series of paintings and drawings show the new solutions he adopted to capture the atmosphere and spirit of England. Canaletto painted London and lingered over Westminster Bridge, the second bridge over the Thames, then under construction. He also painted the English countryside, travelling as far as outskirts of Scotland to depict Alnwick Castle, home of the Duke of Northumberland.

A special section is devoted to technical experiments conducted by the artist throughout his career. Canaletto conceived a systematic and scientific way to rework drawings that had been made outdoors by means of a camera obscura (dark chamber). An example of the camera obscura used by the painter is presented next to a facsimile that allows the visitor to visualise for himself what the painter would see when using this device. A reproduction of pages from his sketchbook, as well as a film, illustrate the technical work of the artist during his portrayal of views of Venice.

This exhibition is also the occasion to conduct for the first time a comprehensive study of the last years of Canaletto in Venice. The works accomplished after his return from London at the end of 1755 illustrate Canaletto’s new interests and his response to the new artistic climate in Venice, where Francesco Guardi (1712–1793) was making a name for himself. Particular attention is devoted to the artist’s tireless passion for the study of new effects of light and atmosphere. The greatest international museums have granted their support. Among them: the Royal Collection and the National Gallery of London, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Uffizi Gallery of Florence as well as the Ca’Rezzonico of Venice.

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From artbooks.com:

Bozena Anna Kowalczyk, ed., Canaletto, Rome—Londres—Venise: Le Triomphe de la Lumière (Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 2015), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-9462300835, 45€ / $85.

canaletto-rome-londres-venise-le-triomphe-de-la-lumiereFor the inaugural exhibition at the Centre d’Art de l’Hôtel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence, Mercatorfonds presents the first French monograph on Canaletto, and the first worldwide following the Metropolitan Museum’s publication in 1989. Numerous recent shows, focusing on specific aspects of Canaletto’s work or simply on his depictions of Venice, are a clear indication of the public’s interest in the painter’s oeuvre. This volume introduces the reader to Canaletto and, by tracing the various phases of his artistic path, provides a complete overview of his work. To highlight the development of Canaletto’s tastes, his reactions to Venice’s artistic and cultural trends and the atmosphere of England—where he worked for nine years—the paintings and drawings shown here have been selected from among the artist’s most remarkable pieces.


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