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Il piccolo, grande Canaletto

The small, great Canaletto


Son of a painter of theatrical scenes, Giovanni Antonio Canal owes its nickname to the physical stature. Learn everything in the father's shop. A business trip to Rome to paint scenes from a work by Vivaldi leads him to see the works of Van Wittel and Giovanni Panini that inspire him to choose his professional path: landscape painter.

Back in Venice he dedicated himself full time to his new business; in short it affirms itself and obtains important commissions.

Canaletto uses any "technical" means that helps him in the "exact" realization of what he sees: optical chamber, glass, etc. His prodigious technique and a particular intuition do the rest.

Just compare a painting by Van Wittel with one by Canaletto to realize that Giovanni Antonio is on another level.

Canaletto considers the contrasts between light and shadow and does not eliminate them in favor of a "theoretical" painting, but sticks to the truth.

As already Leonardo takes into account the atmosphere and modulates the warp of his painting making it perceive, making it exist.

It also uses a shrewdness that was recently confirmed by neuroscience: the mind partly constructs what it sees.

By intuition or experience, Canaletto does not exactly define the most distant details, but it leaves them indefinite, hinted at, almost like "spots". It thus allows our mind to interpret and add details that we imagine must be there, but in reality Canaletto did not paint them.

From the textbook, a figure on a bridge, used precisely for recent scientific tests, has been described by the observer as a soldier, complete with a sword ... which is not there.

The figure seen up close is rendered with a few brush strokes, but there is no trace of the scabbard and sword up close.

As it often happens in various fields of the arts critics have never appreciated Canaletto very much (some decidedly against and detractors), but the success with the "public" is unchallenged. Famous and sought after in life, it is among the most popular with generations of art lovers.

Considered a "photographer" of the time, the critics did not reward the technical skills of the genre, which are still hardly surpassed, because they lack a "poetics", an expression and philosophy of the world.

I think that a painter who chooses to paint the "real", as many less skilled than him announced after him, should do it best.

And Canaletto in his "views" is the best.

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