The Campo S. Basso: The North Side with the Church (recto); A Market Scene (verso)


The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Sharply receding to the left, a row of buildings with shops along the ground floor exhibits a multitude of architectural details. This view of the north side of Saint Mark's Square features its celebrated clock tower, topped by bronze figures that strike the hours. Yet the church bells on the far right actually belong to a rooftop two buildings away. By moving the bells to the side of the drawing, Canaletto emphasized the receding perspective. He frequently distorted and rearranged monuments to suit his refined sense of composition.

Canaletto probably enlisted the aid of a camera obscura, a ruler, and a compass to produce this sketch, reworking it later in his studio. He often referred to drawings for guidance and inspiration. He may also have used this sketch as a pattern for a larger painting from his workshop. Canaletto left many notes on the sketch, including one to remind himself of the drawing he made on the verso--a market scene of elegant gentlemen mingling with vendors among an array of merchandise.

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  • Title: The Campo S. Basso: The North Side with the Church (recto); A Market Scene (verso)
  • Creator: Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)
  • Date: 1740s
  • Physical Dimensions: 43.2 x 29.2 cm (17 x 11 1/2 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink, over black chalk
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 2000.9
  • Inscription: Annotated on the recto, in pen and brown ink, in the sky: "58/volta./seconda parte piaza di S. Basso verso S. Giminian che sia/unita con il folio 59"; on the incomplete upper part of the church: "tuta faciata"; in the street, lower left (partly trimmed at left): "Piazeta del pozzo finisse/a questo piare"; and along the lower edge (partly trimmed): "Sul uisa [?] della Seconda colona va il Scalin del..."; annotated on the verso, in pen and brown ink: "58./volta."
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Drawings