An Imaginary Venice sets out to reassess the traditional interpretations of the work of one of the greatest eighteenth-century painters. The paintings and prints on show convey the image of a city whose fame is universal, an icon which has remained unchanged over the passing of time. For this reason, some art historians have seen Canaletto as a painter who mechanically reproduced the reality of his surroundings. The present exhibition analyses his work from a different perspective: that of an artist capable of changing the image of his city, although still maintaining a degree of life-likeness, to the extent that it is difficult to separate the fiction of his paintings from the truth of the city's architecture.
The exhibition is divided into three sections. The first opens with 31 etchings by Canaletto, made between 1740 and 1745, in which capriccios alternate with views of Venice and its surroundings. The second, larger, section is devoted to oil paintings. The capriccios selected here are bathed in poetic atmosphere, juxtaposing Venetian and Roman classical architectural motifs. In order to allow for comparisons, the exhibition also includes the work of contemporaries of Canaletto such as Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi, Bernardo Canal, the artist's father, and his nephew Bernardo Bellotto. The third section, which concludes the exhibition, is dedicated to etchings by Visentini which reproduce Canaletto's most famous vedute painted between 1725 and 1740. The 38 prints are divided into two series. The first takes the form of a route along the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge to the Punta della Dogana and from Rialto to the North entrance; the second crosses the city from the northern entrance to the Piazza San Marco. The last 12 prints illustrating smaller squares in the city.
CANALETTO The Piazza San Marco looking towards the Basilica Ca. 1736-1738 Oil on canvas. 81 x 127.3 cm. Private Collection
CANALETTO The Jetty of the San Marco Basin Ca. 1737-1738 Oil on canvas. 53.4 x 70.8 cm. Private Collectio
CANALETTO The Bucintoro on Ascension Day 1743-1745 Oil on canvas. 57 x 93 cm. Barcelona, Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Monasterio de Pedralbes
CANALETTO La Libreria Ca. 1740-1741 Etching. Paper: 144 x 208 mm. Private Collection
CANALETTO The Piazzetta looking towards the Salute 1722-1723 Oil on canvas. 131,5 x 130 cm. Private Collection da
CANALETTO The Entrance of the Grand Canal with the Salute C. 1740 Oil on canvas. 71 x 112 cm. Private Collection