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A do-it-yourself walk with the Godfather

Part 6: Finale

Was Canaletto successful in London? Sadly not. The reality is that his pictures of London were not much in demand except by the Dukes of Richmond and Northumberland. Who wants a tourist souvenir of the place where they live and work? Significantly Canaletto’s first sale in England was to a 28-year-old German, Prince Lobkowitz from Bohemia, who was in London buying horses for his racing stable.

Canaletto also travelled outside London, painting views of Warwick and Alnwick Castles, Eton College Chapel, and Old Walton Bridge. Today his English pictures have a certain charm by showing London and these other places as we might suppose they once were, but also as they never were.

In 1756 Canaletto returned home Venice, but his time had passed. There are stories of him sketching in the street unrecognised. In his heyday an adoring crowd would have surrounded him. Even the newly established Academy of Fine art in Venice rejected him when he first applied for membership. Finally he died in obscurity, even not actual poverty with few possessions.

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