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The Stonemason's Yard

Canalettoabout 1725

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London

'The Stonemason's Yard' is considered one of Canaletto's finest works. The view is one across the Campo (small square) S. Vidal, looking over the Grand Canal to the church of S. Maria della Carità (Saint Mary of Charity). The square has been temporarily transformed into a workshop for repairing the nearby church (not seen in the picture) of S. Vidal. The blocks of Istrian stone were brought by water to the square. The 'campanile' (bell-tower) of the church of S. Maria della Carità on the far side of the Grand Canal collapsed in 1744, after the painting was made, and was not rebuilt.

The painting is not precisely datable but the bold composition, the densely applied paint and the careful execution of the figures are characteristic of Canaletto's works of the mid- to late 1720s. The informal nature of the scene and the unusual view across the Grand Canal suggest that it was made for a local Venetian patron rather than a foreign visitor to Venice.

This picture was presented by Sir George Beaumont in 1823/8.

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Details

  • Title: The Stonemason's Yard
  • Creator: Canaletto
  • Date Created: about 1725
  • Physical Dimensions: 123.8 x 162.9 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The National Gallery, London
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • More Info: More Artist Information
  • Inventory number: NG127
  • Artist Biography: Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, was born in Venice, the son of a theatrical scene painter. He was very influential, famed for his precisely depicted and evocative views of the city (vedute). Canaletto's early pictures for local patrons are his most accomplished: these carefully designed, individual, and atmospheric studies include 'The Stonemason's Yard'. He found that providing formulaic paintings for tourists was very lucrative. These, still highly skilled works, were produced by him often in collaboration with an organised workshop. They usually record the lavish Venetian public ceremonies, as in 'Regatta on the Grand Canal'. Canaletto was favoured by English collectors. He visited England repeatedly between 1746-56, painting works like 'Eton College'. His most important assistant was his nephew Bellotto, who became an accomplished artist. Canaletto often made meticulous preparatory drawings. He may have used a camera obscura for topographical accuracy in creating some of his designs, but he always remained concerned with satisfying compositional design, not simply slavishly recording views.
  • Acquisition Credit: Sir George Beaumont Gift, 1823; passed to the National Gallery, 1828

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