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Canaletto, 'Venice: Palazzo Grimani', about 1756-68

Key facts
Full title Venice: Palazzo Grimani
Artist Canaletto
Artist dates 1697 - 1768
Date made about 1756-68
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 30.5 × 38.8 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG941
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venice: Palazzo Grimani

This work is almost a portrait of a building: the imposing facade of the Palazzo Grimani fills nearly the entire composition. Boatmen emerge from the left and right just in front of us, adding a sense of movement, while figures composed of dots and daubs of paint stand on the palace’s steps.

Palazzo Grimani, built between 1556 and 1575 for Gerolamo Grimani, Procurator of San Marco, was one of the outstanding buildings of Renaissance Venice. It was admired during the eighteenth century and included in Antonio Visentini’s Admiranda Urbis Venetae, a series of architectural drawings of Venetian palaces.

We don't know exactly when Canaletto painted this, but it was probably after his return to Venice from London in 1755; he died in 1768. He liked to work on a smaller scale during his mature years, and his touch became lighter and freer, with architectural details consisting of black outlines and muted colours applied with great assurance.

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