Humanities
Perspective in Canaletto’s Piazza San Marco Analysis

ART 103

ART

Question Description

I’m studying for my Art class and need an explanation.

It takes 7-10 pages and it is a specific painting to analyze and appreciate. Canaletto's The Piazza San Marco in Venice, which requires some professional citations.

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Attached.

HISTORY OF MODERN ART

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History of Modern Art
Student Name
Course

HISTORY OF MODERN ART

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History of Modern Art

Modern art encompasses artistic work began in the 1860s through 1970s and it was
marked with art philosophy and styles produced during that era. The term is always connected to
art where the traditions have been thrown aside the zeal to experiment. Contemporary artists
engaged fresh ideas along with new ways of experimenting regarding the nature of materials in
conjunction with art functions. Modern art was initiated with the heritage of painters such as Paul
Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse, and Vincent van Gogh alongside other painters. Reflecting in the
18th century, Canaletto was known to be the top painter of the city views. This early work
illustrates the most compelling features of his style that depicts the most popular square in
Venice from the high viewpoint, hence warranting a wider frame for the composition1. The
horizontal line developed in the background by engaging the facades of St Mark’s along with the
Doge’s Palace. To gain solid consent regarding the accounts of modern art, this paper presents an
analysis along with the appreciation of Piazza San Marco painting in Venice by Canaletto.
Canaletto
Giovanni Antonio Canal popularly known as Canaletto was born in 1697 and met his
death in 1768. Currently, he is celebrated for his paintings in Venice, to be specific. Alongside
painting, he also practiced printmaking with the help of the etching method. Most of his
paintings can be traced in various museums across the world2.

1

Casper J. Erkelens. Perspective on Canaletto’s Paintings of Piazza San Marco in Venice.
Leiden, Holland. Brill. 21, Jan 2020

2

Casper. Perspective on Canaletto’s Paintings. Leiden, Holland. Brill

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Piazza San Marco by Canaletto
Canaletto was among the painters who have been engaging the linear perspective method
when developing an illusion of the depth of the flat surface. Recent research confirmed that
various painters commonly known for their competency in the linear perspective engaged the
approach to direction, rather than the distance in depth. The paintings on distance were done as if
vanishing sections in the painting demonstrated an ending intersection point. A perspective space
marked with such features has been suggested as a framework for visual space3. Certainly, some
painters engaged the linear perspective connected to the visual space instead of the physical
space. Consequently, applying such a perspective has restricted the painters from utilizing optical
projection tools.
Various painters engaged the linear perspective method and some of them were vedutisti,
renowned for their proficiency in utilizing the method. Vedutisti is highly detailed painters
always large-scale cityscapes plus architectural vistas also known as the vedute. This painting
style was initiated in Italy in the last phases of the 17th century by Gaspare Vanvitelli. Vanvitelli
was a Dutch painter whose real names were Caspar van Wittel and his native country was the
Netherlands. Painters like Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Giovanni Paolo Panini, and Giovanni
Antonio Canal is commonly known as Canaletto are the celebrated vedutisti. Their utilization of
linear perspective based on visual instead of the physical space implies that some vedutisti relied
on the camera lucida and camera obscura to develop their masterpieces4. Canaletto is thought to

3

ibid

4

Fenlon, Iain. Piazza San Marco. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 2009

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be among the painters that utilized the optical device. One of the indications suggests that
Canaletto had a camera obscura whose current exhibition is at Museo Correr based at the Piazza
San Marco, Venice.
Probably, Canaletto (1697-1768) the most celebrated vedutisti painted specific Venetian
architecture views that can easily be traced in most major art museums across the world. At the
Venice Accademia, he was a professor of perspective who was acknowledged as an authority in
the topic. After deviating from the traditional linear perspective rules based on the distance
depth, it would be necessary to examine other elements of his paintings of the existing scenes.
His Piazza San Marco paintings are specifically suited for such study. For more than 30 years, in
Venice, he painted Piazza San Marco multiple times5. From these paintings, they were from
viewpoints on the Piazza west side. Modern painters and followers like Francesco Guardi,
Bernardo Bellotto, Apollonio Domenichini, and Giovanni Battista Cimaroli painted the Piazza
from the same viewpoints. The paintings based on these viewpoints seem to be interesting
following the extraordinary geometry of the Piazza.
Perspective paintings are always marked with a lone perspective and this implies that the
line parallel in-depth intersect at a single vanishing section on the horizon line. In some
instances, the paintings indicate two-point perspective coupled with two vanishing points based
on the horizon. Barely, would these artworks denote a three-point perspective with the third

5

Fenlon. Piazza San Marco. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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disappearing section below the horizon or far above for all the vertical lines6. An ultimate
illustration that demonstrates this entails the lithograph “ascending and descending” by Maurits
Escher, a Dutch artist. The three point-perspective is ultimate in paintings and so, it is classified
as a standard work in the linear perspective. That said, it would be necessary to state that the
paintings by Canaletto can be categorized as one along with two-point perspective paintings
where the vanishing points are based on the horizon, hence making them parallel vertically.
What makes the Piazza geometry to be extraordinary are the three vanishing points proximal to
each other on the horizon7. The piazza geometry needs substantial knowledge and skills of the
painter to position the vanishing points along with the perspective lines on the canvas efficiently.
Perspective quality as an aspect has been assessed some of the Canaletto’s paintings of the
Piazza. The analysis encompasses the precision plus the accuracy of the vanishing points,
perspective lines, in conjunction with those of sizes and shadows of people and structures.
Piazza San Marco Layout
Reflecting on the image, one learns that Piazza layout seems to be irregularly
quadrilateral which suggests that there are no boundaries that are parallel to each other. From the
times of Canaletto, the layout has remained virtually unchanged. The analyzed paintings denote
the Piazza viewpoints that are proximal to the structures which are currently known as the Ala
Napoleonica or the Napoleon Wing on the western side of Piazza. Presently, the Ala

6

Links, J. G. CANALETTO'S VENICE. Modern Painters; Autumn94, Vol. 7 Issue 3, p68-71, 4p.
1994

7

Links, J. G. CANALETTO'S VENICE. Modern Painters; Autumn94,

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Napoleonica has an entrance that directs one to the Museo corer. In developing sketches for the
paintin...

Chancellor_Ivy (21975)
Carnegie Mellon University

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