Una veduta di Piazza San Marco vista dal Canaletto

Canaletto and Venice | a story continuing

It was about 1727, Antonio Canal was turning thirty. A scion of art – his father painted stage-sets – he used to paint a Saint Mark’s Square frequented at the time only by the upper classes (citizens, foreigners and humble people were excluded). 

A few years later, around 1730, he met the English consul Joseph Smith, an art lover and merchant, who introduced him to the British market, the most prosperous at the time. Antonio Canal, by then known as Canaletto, moved to London where he lived for almost a decade, gaining success. He returned to Venice, but international recognition was not sufficient, his genre, vedutism, had no ranking within academia, and thus from 1763 every trace of him disappeared until his death five years later, in 1768.

Who knows whether during those last years, Canaletto might have imagined that the “Saint Mark’s Square” he had painted many years earlier, would arrive right there in that palace, the Ducal one, a symbol of power and of a republic with a history spanning over one thousand years…

It has arrived from the National Gallery in Washington for a great exhibition, which the Venice City Museums wished in collaboration with the RMN – Paris Grand Palais, to seal the indissoluble bond linking the town to this artist.

Therefore, Canaletto & Venice (this is the title of the exhibition) return together during the period that most embodies the Venetian Eighteenth century, Carnival. An exhibition which wishes to describe Venice through the eyes of Canaletto, but which also describes an extraordinary century, the Republic’s last, seen through more of its protagonists. So here, besides Canaletto, are masterpieces by Luca Carlevarijs, by Rosalba Carrera, by Giambattista Tiepolo and besides, by Giambattista Piranesi, by Pietro Longhi and Antonio Canova, from whom a new important trend would be springing, neo-classicism.

Undoubtedly, while this exhibition ought to be considered unmissable (until 9 June), further showcase occasions will attract attention during this period.

Regarding modern art (of the Twentieth century) From Gesture To Form. European and American post-war art will be visible until 18 March: a special layout for the splendid Schulhof collection at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Also, until the 24th of the month, more opportunities are being offered by Futuruins, an exhibition dedicated to the western concept of ruins hosted within the suggestive venues at Palazzo Fortuny, and by Corrado Balest’s anthology exhibition at Ca’Pesaro. 

Ongoing instead: From Kandinsky to Botero, an unprecedented comparison between the art of tapestry and that of twentieth century painting, at Palazzo Zaguri; 4444 Water and Fire, on the relationship between art and the environment at Ca’ Rezzonico and Palazzo Ferro Fini; the solo shows by Valeria Costa at Palazzo Contarini, and Marcella Vanzo at Palazzo Franchetti.

While two important exhibitions by the Pinault group on contemporary art are expected by the end of the month (from 24), one dedicated to Luc Tuymans and one to the artists of the Pinault foundation titled Place and Signs, respectively set up at Palazzo Grassi and at Punta della Dogana. The billboard is completed by a vast anthology display dedicated to photographer Letizia Battaglia (from 20 March) at the Casa dei Tre Oci; by “The Glass”of Maurice Marinot at the Le Stanze del Vetro (from 25); the exhibition of the finalists of the Arte Laguna Prize in evocative scenary of the Tese (Arsenale).

Venice offers yet more interesting opportunities this month in addition to the exhibitions scenario, starting from Carnival, really mandatory in this Venetian season. This grand feast meandering throughout alleys, squares and palaces until 5 March, is themed this year on the Moon, the inspirer of dreams and eccentricity (we are following up with an excerpt of the official programme). 

Two events for film lovers will follow the Carnival: Lo schermo dell’Arte Film Festival, an exclusive selection of screenings from the latest edition of the Florentine festival dedicated to art films (from 6 to 10 March) at the Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, and the Short Film Festival, the first film festival in Europe run by university students, promoted by the University of Ca’ Foscari (from 20 to 23 March). While for photography, we may also recall the important rendez-vous with Venice Photo on the island of San Servolo, and for fashion, the meetings by the Venice Fashion Week, the well-established Venetian week of fashion, now in its ninth edition (from 28 to 30 March). Finally, amongst everything else, Venice will not forget 8 March, the day celebrating International Women’s Day with a series of initiatives.