The Grand Canal looking East from Campo San Vio towards the Bacino

Keywords: CanallookingEastCampoSanViotowardsBacino

Work Overview

The Grand Canal looking East from Campo San Vio towards the Bacino
Date: c.1730; Venice, Italy *
Style: Baroque
Genre: veduta
Media: oil, canvas
Dimensions: 47.6 x 79.5 cm
Location: Private Collection

This view is dominated by the Palazzo Barbarigo. Canaletto focusses here on the different textures and colours of the ageing and weather-beaten plaster, which provide a backdrop for small vignettes of daily life.

This is one of a series of twelve views by Canaletto of the Grand Canal which are all the same format. The pictures form the basis of the fourteen engraved plates in Visentini's 'Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum' (Venice, 1735), thus providing an uncontested date for completion. It is thought that they originated in the years around 1730. The paintings were all acquired by George III with the collection of Consul Smith.

The Campo (or Campiello) San Vio opens on to the Grand Canal at a point a hundred metres east of the Carità, and this view thus repeats some of the buildings shown in the previous painting. The church of San Vio, properly Santi Vito e Modesto, is out of picture to the right of this view, and was demolished in 1813. The right side of the painting is taken up by the flank of Palazzo Barbarigo, with the gothic façade of Palazzo da Mula in sharp foreshortening beyond. The dome of the Salute protrudes above the Palazzi Dario, Barbaro and Benzon. This view is impossible from the narrow campo: Canaletto has expanded the foreground and incorporated a view of the right bank taken from a little way into the canal. 

The left bank of the canal is dominated by Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande, built after 1533 to Sansovino's designs. Beyond are Palazzi Minotto and Gritti, and finally the tall Palazzo Flanghini Fini. On the horizon are the belltowers of San Martino (left) and San Biagio (right), with the dome and tower of San Pietro di Castello in between. Perhaps surprisingly, given that no celebrated building other than Palazzo Corner is seen well, this was one of the most popular compositions of Canaletto's whole career, and many versions are known.