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Canaletto, 'The Stonemason's Yard', about 1725

'The Stonemason's Yard' is considered one of Canaletto's finest works. The view is one across the Campo (small square) S. Vidal, looking over the Grand Canal to the church of S. Maria della Carità (Saint Mary of Charity). The square has been temporarily transformed into a workshop for repairing the nearby church (not seen in the picture) of S. Vidal. The blocks of Istrian stone were brought by water to the square. The 'campanile' (bell-tower) of the church of S. Maria della Carità on the far side of the Grand Canal collapsed in 1744, after the painting was made, and was not rebuilt.

The painting is not precisely datable but the bold composition, the densely applied paint and the careful execution of the figures are characteristic of Canaletto's works of the mid- to late 1720s. The informal nature of the scene and the unusual view across the Grand Canal suggest that it was made for a local Venetian patron rather than a foreign visitor to Venice.

This picture was presented by Sir George Beaumont in 1823/8.


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