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Audio guide: A view of the Grand Canal in Venice

Audio guide stop: 704

Crowdsourced transcription of the audio file

View of the Grand Canal in Venice by Canaletto (PD.106-1992)
View of the Grand Canal in Venice by Canaletto (PD.106-1992)
Creative Commons Licence

We are looking here towards the entrance of the Grand Canal in Venice on a calm, sunny day. The sky, but for a few wisps of white cloud, is a clear blue, the greener surface of the water is scarcely ruffled and the sun shines upon those parts of the buildings that face us, leaving much of the right side of the scene in shadow.

This is a work by the great eighteenth-century painter Canaletto. Historian John Julius Norwich describes his admiration for the artist:

'Well, I mean, the first thing to be said is that Canaletto was by far the greatest view-painter – or vedutista, as the Italians called it – who ever lived. And as we know, he painted virtually nothing but Venice except for a period when he was in England, and he knew his city so well that he could afford to take the most extraordinary liberties with it.

I mean one of the most extraordinary and fascinating things that you can do is to get a little book of Canaletto reproductions and take it around Venice, go around Venice on foot, and try and stand at the place that Canaletto stood when he was painting any given picture, and you can never, never do it because he paints every picture from about four or five different viewpoints.

He thinks nothing of moving a campanile a couple of hundred yards to the left or the right if he feels that it's going to improve his composition. And of course, as well as that, he gives this picture such an extraordinary degree of life.'

Co-production of this resource

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The transcription of the audio file for this stop was enabled by the AHRC funded crowd-sourcing platform MicroPasts. The below generously gave their time to transcribe the file.

Roger Wilmot, Adi Levin, Anonymous, Anna and Athena

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