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Canaletto 1697 - 1768, Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day 1740, © The National Gallery, London
To symbolise the marriage of Venice to the sea, the Doge of Venice drops a gold ring into the Grand Canal. This is the scene depicted here in one of Canaletto’s finest paintings. The annual festival, which has taken place for more than 1000 years, symbolises Venice’s dominance of the seas during this period in history.
Canaletto's painting works beautifully on a pocket square due to its contrasting areas of colour and detail. By experimenting with different folds, its very simple to pair with numerous outfits. We particularly like the puff fold and the more flamboyant double-point roll paired with a summer suit.
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Giovanni Antonio Canal (17 or 18 October 1697 – 19 April 1768), better known as Canaletto, was a Venetian painter of highly detailed landscapes or vistas. He was born in Venice as the son of the painter Bernardo Canal, hence his mononym Canaletto ("little Canal”). Much of Canaletto's early artwork was painted "from nature", differing from the then customary practice of completing paintings in the studio. His paintings are always notable for their accuracy, recording the seasonal submerging of Venice in water and ice as well as later painting grand scenes of the canals of Venice and the Doge's Palace. His large-scale landscapes portrayed the city's pageantry and waning traditions, making innovative use of atmospheric effects and strong local colours. For these qualities, his works may be said to have anticipated Impressionism.
Many of his pictures were sold to Englishmen on their Grand Tour, but in the 1740s his market was disrupted when the War of the Austrian Succession led to a reduction in the number of British visitors to Venice, forcing Canaletto to move to London in 1746 to be closer to his market. He remained in England until 1755, producing views of London, including several of the new Westminster Bridge, which was completed during his stay. His 1754 painting of Old Walton Bridge includes an image of Canaletto himself.
Canaletto's painting began to suffer from repetitiveness, losing its fluidity, and becoming mechanical to the point that the English art critic George Vertue suggested that the man painting under the name 'Canaletto' was an impostor. The artist was compelled to give public painting demonstrations in order to refute this claim; however, his reputation never fully recovered in his lifetime. Read more information about the artist on his Wikipedia page Canaletto.
The painting shows a view towards the Doge's Palace on the right, with Santa Maria della Salute and the entrance to the Grand Canal on the left. The annual ceremony of the Wedding of the Sea is about to take place, with the official procession making its way from the Doge's Palace to the state barge, the 'Bucintoro', and the Doge's ceremonial umbrella is just visible in the crowd. The Doge will then drop a gold ring from the barge to symbolise the marriage of Venice to the sea. The arms of the Doge Alvise Pisani, who ruled from 1735-41 are visible on the 'Bucintoro'.
Canaletto’s paintings were prized souvenirs amongst tourists as they captured the charm and opulence of the city. In addition, they also provided a geographical representation of the famous city due to Canaletto’s fine attention to detail and clever use of capturing perspective in his paintings. More details on the painting can be found on the National Gallery website.
For the internal edge of the border we have used the same design seen above the gothic arches of the Doge’s Palace, seen here to the right of the painting and facing onto the Basin of San Marco. We've taken the design and repeated this in a similar fashion to the side of the building. The outer edge of the border is then a repeating pattern of the ‘ferro’ found on the bow of the Venetian gondola and this can be seen littered throughout the foreground of the painting a number of times. The colours we've used are then direct matches of the reds and gold found within the central vessels of the Doge.