Giovanni Antonio Canale, known as Canaletto, was born in 1697 in Venice where his father was a painter of theatrical scenery. The young Canaletto studied first in his father’s workshop then probably under the Dutch painter van Wittel. He next went to Rome, where he learned perspective from Panini, the famous architectural artist. Immediately upon his return to Venice, in 1720, Canaletto became successful as a painter and engraver of city scenes.
Among his early and enthusiastic patrons was the British consul Joseph Smith who urged him to go to Britain. Before doing so, Canaletto returned to Rome for a two-year stay (1740-41) making his first trip to England in 1745. Except for two trips to Venice, he remained there until 1755. He painted many familiar English scenes and decorated many of the Palladian villas in the southern countries. He was elected to membership in the Venetian Academy in 1763.
These are observations painted by a man who knew the city intimately, was saturated with its atmosphere, and was familiar with both its festival gaiety and its everyday scenes. Canaletto recorded his observations with clarity and delight in the color and constantly changing atmosphere that to him was Venice. He died in 1768.