Published to accompany the exhibition Venice: Canaletto and his Rivals at the National Gallery, London 13 October 2010 – 16 January 2011, and at the National Gallery, Washington 20 February – 30 May 2011.
View painting in eighteenth-century Venice began with the emergence of Luca Carlevarijs and ended with the death of Francesco Guardi in 1793, followed by Napoleon’s invasion and the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797. In between, a constellation of remarkable painters depicted both the famous spectacles and the remote corners of the city, in dazzling pictures which are among the greatest achievements in eighteenth-century art.
Canaletto may be the artist popularly associated with images of the city, but he had many rivals who competed for commissions, not only locally but from foreigners whose patronage was to determine the course of Venetian view painting later in the century. All the major figures are represented here – Bellotto, Carlevarijs, Guardi, Joli, Marieschi and Vanvitelli – together with some fascinating contemporaries such as Cimaroli and Tironi. Charles Beddington sets the scene with an overview of the artists then working in the city, introducing the dramatis personae and bringing to bear the latest research and scholarship to illuminate the complex stylistic relationships between them. Succinct biographies for each artist introduce the works, grouped chronologically by artist.
Each painter saw the same topography with his own unique vision and represented it in markedly different ways. This beautiful book demonstrates the varied responses to the cityscape, with its ever-changing light, as well as to its spectacles and ceremonies.