Object Image

Venice: Campo S. Vidal and Santa Maria della Carità ('The Stonemason's Yard')

This intimate view of Venice, weatherbeaten and dilapidated, is one of Canaletto's masterpieces. In the early morning sun, workmen chisel away at pieces of stone. Everyday life continues around them: a mother rushes to comfort her crying child, watched by a woman on the balcony above.

This square - the Campo San Vidal - was not usually a mason's yard: it appears to have been temporarily transformed into a workshop while repairs are done to the nearby church of San Vidal. The church of Saint Maria della Carità and its campanile (bell tower) are visible on the far side of the Grand Canal.

Painted during the late 1720s, this is one of Canaletto's finest early works. He has skilfully described various materials and textures: the crumbling plaster, exposed brick, and rough timber in a subtle range of colours. The buildings of different styles and heights, the animated figures and the areas of light and shadow in this theatrical picture may recall the stage sets Canaletto painted at the very beginning of his career.

Credit: Sir George Beaumont Gift, 1823; passed to the National Gallery, 1828

c. 1725
Oil on canvas
123.8 x 162.9cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2024

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National Gallery