Canaletto (1697—1768) was the most renowned view-painter of Venice in the eighteenth century. He recorded the unique lagoon city in numerous paintings that were widely collected by British and French aristocrats. In 1742 he executed The Square of Saint Mark’s, Venice and The Entrance to the Grand Canal from the Molo, Venice as a pair. The paintings were purchased by one of the great visitors to the city, the Earl of Carlisle, who incorporated them into the decor of his country house, Castle Howard.
Canaletto represented the political, religious, and social center of the city, the Square of Saint Mark’s, one of the most striking architectural ensembles in Europe. On the left he placed the eleventh-century Basilica of San Marco with its rich mosaic decorations. In the center is the Ducal Palace, seat of the ceremonial head of Venice, the doge, as well as the various councils of government. To the right is Sansovino’s Renaissance guardhouse at the base of the bell tower, recognizable along the edge of the canvas. The tower casts a shadow across the square and the basilica, indicating that it is late afternoon on a bright sunny day.
In The Entrance to the Grand Canal from the Molo, Venice, Canaletto looked west across the lagoon from the Molo, the wide quay beyond the piazza, to Palladio’s High Renaissance masterpiece, the Church of the Redeemer. The votive church of Santa Maria della Salute, with its great baroque domes, dominates the right side of the composition.
Contains five each of the following two notecards: Entrance to the Grand Canal from the Molo, Venice (detail), and The Square of Saint Mark’s, Venice (detail).