Canaletto's "The Grand Canal in Venice..."

Canaletto's "The Grand Canal in Venice..."

Canaletto, The Grand Canal in Venice from Palazzo Flangini to Campo San Marcuolaabout 1738, The Getty Center, Los Angeles. 

I like this painting because it reminds me that people in the past were just like people today.

Some things are just universal. Everyone has an aunt or uncle who overserves themself before dinner. It’s never easy to make a living as an artist. And tourists will always love Venice. Not only will tourists always love Venice, but they will always pay good money for some reminder of their time there. And that's how Canaletto paid his mortgage. 

Canaletto’s atmospheric realism was about the closest thing to a photograph you could get in those days. He was among the first artists to bring his painting out of the studio and into the real world. In that way, not only can we draw a line from Canaletto painting en plein air to the Impressionists a hundred years later, but also to every painter today who sets up an easel near some tourist trap. 

So yes, his attention to detail is superb; and his handling of space and light is masterful. But the thing I love most about it is just how darn commercial it is. In the 18th Century, every British gentleman went on a Grand Tour of Europe. Venice was a mandatory stop. And who wouldn’t want to purchase a pic of the Grand Canal? It was the Instagram of its day. Canaletto couldn’t turn these things out fast enough. It was such a good hustle, in fact, that he ended up moving to London to be closer to his clients. 

Does the painting move me? Not really. I think its pretty, timeless, and masterful. It's the sort of painting that will always look good in a hallway that connects the spaces where you really spend your time. It's lovely to look at, but you don't need to dwell on it much. But that does not diminish it in any way. Canaletto lived to be 70, which was quite old for the 18th century, and he died rich. It’s sad when we think of the Van Gogh’s or Vermeer’s of the world who never received the recognition or riches their genius deserved within their own lifetimes. Canaletto may not move me the way Caravaggio does, but he’s a success story. His work has pleased people for 300 years. He made a great living as an artist and that's never easy to do, so we should celebrate everyone who does. 

But would it make a good puzzle? 


I think it would be great as a puzzle. The buildings. The detailing. The space. Some fancy cutting in the sky. The sky is a bit big, but there's a good variation of blue and the clouds are interesting. You'd need something a bit bigger to really enjoy the details, so I'm going to say this would make a great 500+ piece puzzle. 


If you are a person who is okay opening a box to see puzzle pieces that are not brightly colored, then this image is a great one for a puzzle. There a lots of small details and brush strokes to help the image come together on a puzzle that is at least 300 pieces or larger. There are also many opportunities within this image for color line cutting in and around the buildings.

What do you think?

If you'd like this piece crafted into a wonderful hand-cut puzzle, use the discount code GUSTUM for 10% off. Elms Club members can stack their CLUBMEMBER discount for an additional 15% off.