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Two Views of Piazza San Marco

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This captivating pair of view paintings – Piazza San Marco and Piazza San Marco and the Colonnade of the Procuratie – depict the Piazza San Marco, home to some of Venice’s most famous landmarks.

Canaletto painted these works during the late 1750s, shortly after his return to Venice from England. Because of their small scale and upright format they are somewhat unusual when compared to the artist’s earlier panoramic views, but his choice of composition was still innovative. In most of his paintings, we look across the Grand Canal or the lagoon that surrounds Venice. Here, Canaletto has experimented with viewpoints taken from within an architectural structure, for example an archway within a colonnade.

His mature phase prompted certain stylistic changes: he moved towards sombre colouring and darker tonality, and he tended to paint small canvases. This appealed to Venetian collectors and foreign tourists – smaller paintings would have been more affordable and easier to transport.

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