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Canaletto, 'Venice: Entrance to the Cannaregio', probably 1734-42

Key facts
Full title Venice: Entrance to the Cannaregio
Artist Canaletto
Artist dates 1697 - 1768
Date made probably 1734-42
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 48 × 80.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by John Henderson, 1879
Inventory number NG1058
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venice: Entrance to the Cannaregio

Gondolas glide across the water, passing fishing boats which direct our gaze towards the mouth of the Cannaregio Canal, Venice’s largest waterway after the Grand Canal.

The Ponte delle Guglie (‘bridge of the obelisks’) spans the water. We can just make out the tiny silhouettes of people crossing it, while others emerge into the sunlight along the waterfront. Beyond this is an area known as the ghetto, where, from the early sixteenth century, the Jewish population was forced by decree to live.

Canaletto altered the view to make a more dramatic composition: the facade of the house on the far right is at a sharper angle here than in reality, the bridge is closer to us and the Cannaregio more open, making it easier to see the buildings on both sides. Canaletto’s scenes from the late 1730s tend to have have a cooler, more wintry light, which we can see here – especially in the wispy pink clouds.

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