“A Regatta on the Grand Canal” by Canaletto
“A Regatta on the Grand Canal” by Canaletto depicts the annual carnival event in Venice, which started in the 14th century and continues to this day. The city of Venice hosted regattas in honor of distinguished visitors as well as the annual carnival Regatta event. Some of the figures in the foreground wear the ‘bauta.’ A ‘bauta’ is a costume consisting of a white mask and black cape, which was typically worn during the carnival. This painting features the one-oared light gondola race and the temporary floating pavilion on the left, from which prizes in the form of colored flags were presented to the winners.
This picture is from a series of Grand Canal painted by Canaletto that depict Venice’s reputation as a city of festivities. The ornate temporary structure bears the coat of arms of Carlo Ruzzini, who ruled as Doge of Venice from 1732 until 1735.
Spectators filled the boats along both sides of the Grand Canal. The balconies of the palaces were also crowded and decorated with colorful hangings. In addition to the color and spectacle, the eight-oared barges have been specially decorated for the occasion.
This Canaletto is a typical example of the vedute paintings popular with Grand Tour travelers of the 1700s as a visual record of their travels. Canaletto was one of the more famous painters of city views or vedute, especially of Venice. From 1746 to 1756, he worked in England, where he created many paintings of the sights of London. He was highly successful in England. He became famous thanks to the British merchant and connoisseur Joseph Smith, who sold his extensive collection of Canaletto’s paintings to King George III in 1762. Canaletto’s paintings became highly prized because during the 18th-century as European monarchs vied for his grandest pictures.
Many of Canaletto’s paintings can be found in museums across the world, depict highly detailed, usually large-scale paintings of Venetian other famous cityscapes.
Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697 – 1768), better known as Canaletto, who was born in Venice, is famous for his paintings of the city views of Venice, Rome, and London. He was also a printmaker using the etching technique. From 1746 to 1756, he worked in England, where he painted the many sights of London. He was highly successful in England, thanks to a British merchant, whose extensive collection of Canaletto’s works was sold to King George III in 1762, which significantly increased Canaletto’s prestige.
Carnival of Venice
- The Carnival of Venice is an annual festival held in Venice and is world-famous for its elaborate masks and historical traditions.
- The tradition of the Carnival of Venice was started in 1162, to celebrate a victory of the Republic of Venice against one of its many enemies during that period.
- After a long absence, the Carnival returned in 1979 in its modern form as an initiative to revive the history and culture of Venice.
- Masks have always been an essential feature of the Venetian carnival. One of the highlights of the Carnival is the contest for “the most beautiful mask,” which is judged by a panel of international costume and fashion designers.
- About 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for the Carnival.
A Regatta on the Grand Canal
- Title: A Regatta on the Grand Canal
- Artist: Canaletto
- Year: 1740
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions Height: 122.1 cm (48 in); Width: 182.8 cm (71.9 in)
- Museum: The National Gallery, London
- Artist: Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto)
- Born: 1697 – Venice, Republic of Venice
- Died: 1768 (aged 70) – Venice, the Republic of Venice (now Italy)
- Nationality: Venetian
- Notable works:
- Bucentaur’s return to the pier by the Palazzo Ducale
- The Grand Canal in Venice
- The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice
- Piazza San Marco with the Basilica, Venice
- Santa Maria della Salute in Venedig vom Canal Grande
- A Regatta on the Grand Canal
- Prà della Valle in Padua
- “Capriccio: Ruins and Classic Buildings” by Canaletto
- Eton College
A Tour of The National Gallery
13th Century Paintings
- “The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Narrative Scenes” by Margarito d’Arezzo – 1264
- “The Virgin and Child” by Master of the Clarisse – 1268
- “Crucifix” by Master of Saint Francis – 1270
14th Century Paintings
- Wilton Diptych – 1395
- “The Annunciation” by Duccio – 1311
- “The Healing of the Man Born Blind” by Duccio – 1311
15th Century Paintings
- “Arnolfini Portrait” by Jan van Eyck – 1434
- “The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello– 1440
- “Venus and Mars” by Sandro Botticelli – 1483
- “Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan” by Giovanni Bellini– 1501
16th Century Paintings
- “Mystic Nativity” by Sandro Botticelli – 1550
- “Virgin of the Rocks” by Leonardo da Vinci – 1506
- “The Madonna of the Pinks” by Raphael – 1507
- “The Raising of Lazarus” by Sebastiano del Piombo– 1519
- “Salvator Mundi” by Andrea Previtali – 1519
- “Bacchus and Ariadne” by Titian – 1523
- “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger – 1533
- “Mary Magdalene” by Girolamo Savoldo – 1540
- “Saint George and the Dragon” by Tintoretto – 1558
- “The Family of Darius before Alexander” by Paolo Veronese – 1567
- “Diana and Actaeon” by Titian – 1569
- “The Rape of Europa” by Paolo Veronese – 1570
- “The Death of Actaeon” by Titian – 1575
- “The Origin of the Milky Way” by Tintoretto – 1575
17th Century Paintings
- “Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio – 1601
- “Samson and Delilah” by Peter Paul Rubens – 1610
- “Christ in the House of Martha and Mary” by Diego Velázquez – 1618
- “The Judgement of Paris” by Peter Paul Rubens – 1635
- “Aurora abducting Cephalus” by Peter Paul Rubens – 1637
- “Equestrian Portrait of Charles I” by Anthony van Dyck – 1638
- “Venus at her Mirror” by Diego Velázquez – 1651
- “The Courtyard of a House in Delft” by Pieter de Hooch – 1658
- “Self Portrait at the Age of 63” by Rembrandt – 1669
- “A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” by Johannes Vermeer – 1670
18th Century Paintings
- “Bacchus and Ariadne” by Sebastiano Ricci – 1713
- “A Regatta on the Grand Canal” by Canaletto – 1740
- “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” by Thomas Gainsborough – 1749
- “Eton College” by Canaletto – 1754
- “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” by Joseph Wright of Derby – 1768
- “Self-portrait in a Straw Hat” by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – 1782
19th Century Paintings
- “Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel” by Francisco Goya – 1805
- “The Emperor Napoleon I” by Horace Vernet – 1815
- “Dido Building Carthage” by J. M. W. Turner – 1815
- “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” by John Constable – 1831
- “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey” by Paul Delaroche – 1833
- “The Fighting Temeraire” by Joseph Mallord William Turner – 1839
- “Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway” by J. M. W. Turner – 1844
- “Cimabue’s Celebrated Madonna is carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence” by Frederic Leighton – 1855
- “Madame Moitessier” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres– 1856
- “The Gare St-Lazare” by Claude Monet – 1877
- “Bathers at Asnières” by Georges Seurat – 1884
- “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh – 1888
- “Tiger in a Tropical Storm” by Henri Rousseau – 1891
- “After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself” by Edgar Degas – 1895
- “Boulevard Montmartre at Night” by Camille Pissarro – 1898
20th Century Paintings
- “Misia Sert” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir – 1904
- “Portrait of Hermine Gallia” by Gustav Klimt – 1904
- Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) by Paul Cézanne – 1905
- “Men of the Docks” by George Bellows – 1912
- “Water-Lilies” by Claude Monet (National Gallery, London) – 1916
Explore The National Gallery
- The National Gallery
- Masterpieces of The National Gallery
- The National Gallery, London – Crossword Puzzles
- Have you seen a Canaletto at your local art museum?
- Does his innovative use of atmospheric effects and strong local colors anticipate Impressionism?
- Do some of Canaletto’s paintings suffer from repetitiveness?
- Which is your favorite Canaletto?
- Canaletto’s depiction of the Carnival of Venice. I would love to visit the modern Carnival of Venice. But what type of Mask to wear?
“Venice…A splendor of miscellaneous spirits.”
– John Ruskin
Photo Credits: 1) Canaletto [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons