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Canaletto, Eton College

Key facts
Full title Eton College
Artist Canaletto
Artist dates 1697 - 1768
Date made about 1754
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 61.6 × 107.7 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG942
Location Room 38
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Eton College

This view is from the bank of the River Thames, looking across a sprawling meadow towards Eton College on the horizon. A shady glade gives way to a softly lit landscape, with folk enjoying the summer’s day – a family group are picnicking while other people fish and boat nearby. A finely painted tree frames and leads the eye towards the middle distance, as do the layers of landscape and river bathed in subtle variations of light and shadow.

There are a number of inaccuracies in the depiction of the chapel, college buildings and surrounding houses, which suggests the artist had little knowledge of the view and perhaps relied on a sketch made on the spot at an earlier date. Painted in around 1754, this is one of the last pictures Canaletto made during his nine-year stay in England; by 1755 he had returned home to Venice.

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