Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) was born in Venice, the son of a scenery painter. He probably trained under his father and assisted his father in Venice and later Rome, before returning to Venice to join the Venetian painter’s guild. His early works were mainly ‘capricci’, sold locally. During the 1720s he began painting Venetian views and met his foremost patron; Englishman Joseph Smith. Smith lived on the Grand Canal and built up the most important collection of Canaletto’s work. It was sold to George III in 1762 and remains in the Royal Collection. Canaletto moved to London in 1746, living in Soho for ten years. In 1763, after returning to Venice, he was elected to the Venetian Academy and appointed head of the Collegio dei Pittori.
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