The Piazza San Marco, ca. 1739

  • Canaletto, Italian, 1697-1768

Oil on canvas

  • Unframed: 29 13/16 × 46 15/16 inches (75.8 × 119.3 cm)
  • 44 5/8 × 57 3/4 × 4 inches (113.3 × 146.7 × 10.2 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund and funds from Edsel B. Ford


On View

  • European: Grand Tour of Italy


European Painting

Canaletto specialized in views of his native city, Venice, working for a devoted and often foreign clientele. This view toward the west end of the Piazza San Marco is typical of the artist's "improvements on nature" by showing in one picture both the Campanile and the Torre dell' Orologio. In actuality these two landmarks, shown framing the left and right edges of the composition, cannot be seen simultaneously from one position. Furthermore, the artist has adopted a slightly elevated viewpoint, which reinforces the perspective lines created by the paving stones. This painting is an important historical document, for it shows what the piazza looked like before alterations were ordered by Napoleon in the early nineteenth century.

Collection Dukes of Leeds,Thomas Osbourne, 4th Duke of Leeds and by descent to the 10th Duke (Great Britain, Hornby Castle, Yorkshire & London, England)

11 June 1920, lot 3 Christie's auction (London, England)

1920-1922, dealer, Arthur J. Sully (London, England) [sold with its pendant]

dealer, Daniel H. Farr (New York, New York, USA)

dealer, Scott & Fowles (New York, New York, USA)

Collection Thomas B. Cochran (New York, New York, USA)

1942, dealer, Julius H. Weitzner (New York, New York, USA)

1943, dealer, Schneider-Gabriel Galleries (New York, New York, USA)

1943-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Richardson, E.P. "With Canaletto in Venice." Bulletin of the DIA 23, 2 (1943-44): pp. 14-16 (ill.). Richardson, E.P., ed. DIA Catalogue of Paintings. 1944, p. 20, cat. 450 (ill.). Richardson, E.P., ed. Picture Book of Baroque and Rococo Art, Vol. 1. 1945, cat. 16 (ill.). Richardson, E.P., ed. Masterpieces of Painting and Sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts. 1949, p. 86. Venice 1700-1800. Detroit, 1952, cat. 12 (ill.). Morassi, A. "Una mostra del settecento veneziano a Detroit." Arte Veneta 7, 25-28 (1953): pp. 49-62, (ill.). Richardson, E.P., ed. Treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts. 1960, p. 104 (ill.). [3rd ed., 1966, p. 110 (ill.).] Puppi, L. L'opera completa del Canaletto. Milan, 1968, cat. 157B. Barcham, W. S. "The Imaginary View Scenes of Antonio Canaletto." Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1974. [dates picture to late 1730's; note, this was published by Garland Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts series, NY, 1977] Constable, W. G. Canaletto, Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697-1768. Oxford, 1962, vol. 1, p. 118, no. 24, pl. 15 ; vol. 2, p. 193, cat. 24. Fredericksen, B. and F. Zeri. Census of pre-19th Century Italian Paintings in North American Collections. Cambridge, MA, 1972, p. 42. Ocvirk, O. G. Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice. Dubuque, 1975 (pl. 25). Cummings, F., ed. Selected Works from the DIA. 1979, p. 147, cat. 120 (ill.). Corboz, A. Canaletto: una Venezia immaginaria, Vol. 2. Milan, 1985, p. 642 (fig. P276). Masterpieces From The Detroit Institute of Arts. Bunkamura Museum of Art. Tokyo, 1989, pp. 66, 210-211, cat. 35 (ill.). Constable, W. G. and J. G. Links. Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768. 2 vols. Oxford, 1989, vol. I, p. 118 (pl. 15, no. 24); vol. II, p. 196. Bomford, D., and G. Finaldi. Venice Through Canaletto's Eyes: Canaletto in the National Gallery, London. 1998, pp. 34-35 (ill. pls. 32-33). Wissman, F. W. European Vistas: Cultural Landscapes. Detroit, 2000, pp. 42, 45-46 (ill.). Bissell, R. W., A. Derstine, and D. Miller. Masters of Italian Baroque Painting: The Detroit Institute of Arts. London, 2005, pp. 9, 34-37, cat. no. 11. [entry by A. Derstine] Derstine, Andria. "The Detroit Institute of Arts and Italian Baroque Painting." In Buying Baroque: Italian Seventeenth-Century Paintings Come to America, ed. Edgar Peters Bowron. University Park, 2017, p. 97.

Canaletto, The Piazza San Marco, ca. 1739, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund and funds from Edsel B. Ford, 43.38.