The composition of this painting is indebted to an original by Canaletto of circa
1737 today in an American private collection.1
However, in its distinctively darker tonality and the characteristic calligraphic handling of the waters of the canal, it is close in spirit to an early work by Bellotto also in a private collection, which reprises the design of Canaletto and indeed was probably painted circa
1738–39 when the young artist was working in his uncle's studio.2
Bellotto evidently had free access to his uncle's designs, and as Beddington points out, a number of his early works were close adaptations of existing works by Canaletto. So strong is the similarity of this picture to these works that Dario Succi published the present work as a youthful work by Bellotto himself. More recently, however, Charles Beddington, to whom we are grateful, has suggested, on the basis of first-hand inspection, that the painting is the work of a hand working alongside (and clearly influenced by) the young Bellotto while he was in Canaletto's studio. We are also grateful to Bozena Anna Kowalcyzk who, on the basis of photographs, has also independently confirmed that she does not believe the work to be by Bellotto, but by another hand in the Canaletto workshop.
1. Oil on canvas, 58.5 by 93cm, for which see C. Beddington, ‘Bernardo Bellotto and his circle in Italy. Part I: not Canaletto but Bellotto’, in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXLVI, number 1219, October 2004, pp. 666–67, reproduced, fig. 16.
2. Oil on canvas, 59 by 91cm; Beddington, 2004, pp. 666–67, reproduced fig. 15.