Piazza San Marco, Venice
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Canaletto, celebrated for his views of Venice (vedute), depicts the city’s principal square of San Marco, which was described by Napoleon as “the finest drawing room in Europe.” The Basilica of Saint Mark, with its Byzantine architecture, and the imposing bell tower dominate the scene as symbols of the rich history of the Venetian Republic. Canaletto adjusts for the trapezoidal shape of the piazza by reinforcing the perspective created by the ornamental marble pattern of stone pavement that had recently been laid. This painting represents a timeless view of Venice while also capturing a slice of eighteenth-century daily life.

Among Canaletto’s most important patrons were English aristocrats who visited the city on the Grand Tour, often bringing home as souvenirs contemporary depictions of the cities they visited. This painting was bought by the fourth Duke of Leeds after he visited Venice in 1734. When the duke returned to England, he had the painting placed within this type of Scotch pine frame that he favored for works in his collection.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.106
People
Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, Italian (Venice, Italy 1697 - 1768 Venice, Italy)
Title
Piazza San Marco, Venice
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1730-1734
Places
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Veneto, Venice
Culture
Italian
Location
Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
76.2 x 118.8 cm (30 x 46 3/4 in.)
framed: 109.6 x 148.5 cm (43 1/8 x 58 7/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: back of frame, paper and ink, handwritten: No. 10
  • inscription: back of frame, white chalk, handwritten: N
Provenance
Thomas, 4th Duke of Leeds Osborne, Yorkshire, England, 1735, by descent; to George Godolphin, 10th Duke of Leeds Osborne, sold [Christies's, London, 1920, no. 3 (sold as a pair with another view of the Piazza)]; to Arthur J. Sully, London, 1920, sold; to Daniel H. Farr, 1921 (with its pendant); to [Scott & Fowles, New York, NY, 1922], sold; to Thomas B. Cochran, New York, NY, sold; to [Schneider-Gabriel Galleries, 1942], sold; to [Julius H. Weitzner, New York , NY], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, 1942, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.106
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
Publication History

Chinese Sculpture, Bronzes, Jades, Paintings and Drawings, Egyptian and Persian sculpture, Pre-Columbian art; selected from the collection of Grenville Lindall Winthrop, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1943), p. 9

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 56, color plate; pp. 101, 357, repr. b/w cat. no. 772

Filippo Pedrocco, Canaletto e i Vedutisti Veneziani, Scala (Florence, Italy, 1995), pp. 26-31; repr. in color fig. 31, p. 26

Dorothea Terpitz, Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto (1697-1768), Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft (Köln, Germany, 1998), pp. 22-23, repr. in color as fig. 14; detail repr. as fig. 15

Filippo Pedrocco, Il Settecento a Venezia: i Vedutisti, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy, 2001), pp. 92-93, repr. in color

Dario Succi and Annalia Delneri, Canaletto Una Venècia Imaginària, exh. cat., Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain, 2001), p. 114, related to cat. # 38

Roberto Contini, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Italian Painting: the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Philip Wilson (London, England, 2002), p. 258; repr. as fig. 1, p. 259

Chikashi Kitazaki, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, Japan, 2002), p. 30, repr. as fig. 21

Graziano Alfredo Veragni, "Splendori in laguna: Canaletto e i vedutisti del Settecento a Venezia", La rappresentazione della città nella pittura italiana, Silvana Editoriale (Milan, Italy, 2003), pp. 237-267, repr. pp. 248-249

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (New York, NY, 2003), repr. in color p. 34 as fig. 35

Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), repr. in color p. 42, as fig. 34

Rinio Bruttomesso, "Venedig, oder: Das schwere Schicksal einer 'Serenissima'", Der Traum von der Stadt am Meer: Hafenstädte aus aller Welt, Hamburg Museum (Hamburg, Germany, 2003), pp. 112-125, details repr. 112, 114, inside back cover

R. Ward Bissell and Andrea Derstine, Masters of Italian Baroque Painting, Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI, 2005), pp. 335-36, under no. 11, repr. as fig. 1

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 115, repr.

Satoshi Hagishima, Canaletto Paintings from the Viewpoint of Urban Landscape Design Theory (Japan, 2010), repr. p. 38 as fig. 2.2.12

Sotheby’s: Old Master Paintings Evening Sale, London 3 December 2014, auct. cat. (London, 2014), p.50

Sotheby's: Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale, London 4 December 2013, auct. cat., Sotheby's, London (London, 4 December 2013), Lot 39; p. 150

Exhibition History

Chinese sculpture, bronzes, jades, paintings and drawings, Egyptian and Persian sculpture, Pre-Columbian art : selected from the collection of Grenville Lindall Winthrop, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/01/1943 - 02/28/1944

Masterpieces of European Art, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/22/1985 - 09/15/1985

Re-View: S424-426 Western Art from 1560 to 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu