Italian Rococo Era Painter, 1697-1768
Italian painter, etcher and draughtsman. He was the most distinguished Italian view painter of the 18th century. Apart from ten years spent in England he lived in Venice, and his fame rests above all on his views (vedute) of that city; some of these are purely topographical, others include festivals or ceremonial events. He also painted imaginary views (capriccios), although the demarcation between the real and the invented is never quite clearcut: his imaginary views often include realistically depicted elements, though in unexpected surroundings, and in a sense even his Venetian vedute are imaginary. He never merely re-created reality. He was highly successful with the English, helped in this by the British connoisseur JOSEPH SMITH, whose own large collection of Canaletto works was sold to King George III in 1762. The British Royal Collection has the largest group of his paintings and drawings.