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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day

Antonio Canaletto

The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day

Date : 1740
Technique : oil on canvas
Size : 183 x 122 cm
Location : National Gallery, Londres
Copyright: ©The National Gallery, Londres

View this work in the Urban transportation exhibition

The work

The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day (c. 1740)

This is one of the largest paintings Canaletto produced for his wealthy clientele. The carefully chosen composition shows a view of the Doge's Palace, Santa Maria della Salute and the Grand Canal. It depicts the annual ceremony during which the Doge drops a gold ring into the water to symbolize the marriage of Venice to the sea, an opportunity to include a number of colorful details much appreciated by art collectors.

The artist

Canaletto (1697-1768)

The painter Canaletto was famous for his vedute (views) of Venice. Very much in fashion in the 18th century, they offer a virtually topographical representation of the landscape enhanced by an undeniably poetic touch. For the tourists visiting Italy in the days before photography, they were highly prized souvenirs. Trained as a theatrical scene painter by his father, Canaletto excelled at these representations which demanded a perfect command of perspective. The work was prepared with outdoor sketches, sometimes with the help of a camera oscura, where the image is reflected in a mirror inside the box which helps the artist to resolve the complexities of perspective before him. Supported by the merchant and British Consul in Venice Joseph Smith, Canaletto quickly became successful and contributed to the spread of the cityscape genre in Europe.