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Canaletto, Venice: The Doge's Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni

Key facts
Full title Venice: The Doge's Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni
Artist Canaletto
Artist dates 1697 - 1768
Date made late 1730s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 61.3 × 99.8 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG940
Location Room 38
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venice: The Doge's Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni

Beneath a sky of swirling cloud and warm sunlight, we take in a view of the Doge’s Palace, one of the best-known buildings in Venice. It overlooks a promenade known as the Riva degli Schiavoni and the basin of San Marco.

Canaletto has given the scene a sense of tranquillity and calm. In the foreground, we see groups of idle sailors, merchants and foreign visitors, each one observed with great individuality; a little further back, Venetians go about their everyday lives.

We are positioned just above the quayside, so that the watercraft – sailing boats, barges, gondolas, and a colourful fusta (single-masted boat) – fill the right-hand side of the composition. From up close, you can see the varied brushwork Canaletto used to describe different textures and materials, particularly the broken timbers and stone littering the water’s edge, and the white sail on the far right.

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