Canaletto was an Italian painter of landscapes, or vedute, of Venice. He was also an important printmaker in etching.
He was born in Venice and served his apprenticeship with his father and his brother. He began in his father's occupation, that of a theatrical scene painter. Canaletto was inspired by the Roman vedutista Giovanni Paolo Pannini, and started painting the daily life of the city and its people.
After returning from Rome in 1719, he began painting in his topographical style. Studying with the older Luca Carlevarijs, a moderately-talented painter of urban cityscapes, he rapidly became his master's equal. Much of Canaletto's early artwork was painted "from nature", differing from the then customary practice of completing paintings in the studio. Some of his later works do revert to this custom, as suggested by the tendency for distant figures to be painted as blobs of colour – an effect produced by using a camera obscura, which blurs farther-away objects.
However, his paintings are always notable for their accuracy: he recorded the seasonal submerging of Venice in water and ice. Canaletto's early works remain his most coveted and, according to many authorities, his best.
Later Canaletto painted grand scenes of the canals of Venice and the Doge's Palace. His large-scale landscapes portrayed the city's pageantry and waning traditions, making innovative use of atmospheric effects and strong local colors. For these qualities, his works may be said to have anticipated Impressionism.
Many of his pictures were sold to Englishmen on their Grand Tour. In 1746 Canaletto moved to London, to be closer to his market. He remained in England until 1755, producing views of London. Overall this period was not satisfactory, owing mostly to the declining quality of Canaletto's work. He's painting began to suffer from repetitiveness, losing its fluidity.
After his return to Venice, Canaletto was elected to the Venetian Academy in 1763. He continued to paint until his death in 1768. In his later years he often worked from old sketches, but he sometimes produced surprising new compositions.
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