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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
Art route(s) B
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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