Antonio Canal (Il Canaletto)
(Venedig, 1697-1768, Venedig)
Santa Maria della Salute, ca. 1738/42
Oil on canvas, 121 x 152 cm
Constable-Links 172
Views of the church of Santa Maria della Salute at the east end of the Canal Grande are a favourite theme of all the Venetian "veduta" painters, and they also appear abundantly in the work of Canaletto. This subject is popular among artists as well as the buying public because of the dominant role of this architecturally striking edifice in the skyline of Venice. The painter’s approach is in this case reinforced by a feature of Baroque architecture itself, the fact that it stresses facade, here the side facing the Canal, even at the cost of the interior and rear. In this picture Canaletto handles the object in a fashion that had been characteristic of him since 1730, with a cool balance of elements taking the place of his earlier more pictorial style. He no longer stresses spatial effects, even deviating from the rules of perspective; now the atmospheric qualities of air and water are precisely subordinated to the architectural forms and the whole subjected to a uniform scale. The clarity of the different planes which are contrasted with one another by means of firmly outlined shadowed areas is reinforced by the uniformly distributed light, and Canaletto’s brighter palette, as compared to his earlier work, is matched by fluid brushwork.
This painting is one of a cycle of six "vedute", including the view of the Canal Grande in this collection, which were done by the artist between 1738 and 1742 for an English collector and bequeathed shortly thereafter to the Dukes of Buccleuch who kept them in Dalkeith Palace near Edinburgh until the 20th century.