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Bernardo Bellotto, Venice: The Grand Canal facing Santa Croce

Key facts
Full title Venice: Upper Reaches of the Grand Canal facing Santa Croce
Artist Bernardo Bellotto
Artist dates 1722 - 1780
Date made about 1738
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 59.7 × 92.1 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2514
Location Room 38
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venice: The Grand Canal facing Santa Croce
Bernardo Bellotto

This is a very early work by Bernardo Bellotto, the talented nephew of the influential Venetian artist Canaletto. It was painted in around 1738, when he was only about 16 years old and working in his uncle’s studio in Venice. By this time Bellotto was creating his own versions of some of Canaletto’s most popular views.

He prepared this composition, which shows the Grand Canal with the church of Santa Croce to the right, in a drawing (Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt), itself based on a design by Canaletto (Royal Collection, Windsor Castle). While Bellotto has followed Canaletto’s scene quite closely here – the beautiful barge or burchiello to the left appears in both – he altered the figures and boats in the foreground.

Bellotto’s distinctive style can be seen even at this early stage. Here, he tends towards a silvery light and cool palette, and has used thick, broad brushstrokes to create clouds and give texture to the turquoise water.

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