So I looked up what was on on the internet and came across the Canaletto exhibition at the National Galery (Venice: Canaletto and his rivals), which immediately got my attention because, first of all, Trafalgar Square is one of my favourite places in the city; also, I hadn’t been to the National Galery in a while and, finally, I happen to love Venice. Sounded like the perfect combination to me!
However, I kind of over-estimated the quantity of spare time I actually have (or my organizational skills, it is debatable) and never actually went to the exhibition.
Until last Saturday. I was waiting for the tube and found myself right in front of a “Venice: Canaletto and his rivals” poster. Surely it was a sign of God and as I read “Friday: open until 9pm” I thought to myself, no excuses there! So I got on the tube and changed my itinerary from wherever it was I was going to the National Galery, Trafalgar Square.
Little did I know that the tickets were sold out because the exhibition would only last for three more days. Well, that’s what one of the National Galery employees said anyway. Because obviously journalists (even journalists-to-be, like myself) never take no for an answer and after a half hour in the tube and an hour in line, I did, in the end, get a ticket to an exhibition I was supposed to have seen roughly two or three months ago.
I have to say I had mixed feelings during the exhibition. First of all, I was disappointed to see there were only six rooms (which weren’t all that big I might add). Also, the fact that it was packed didn’t help either, I felt like I was at the cinema with someone very tall hogging the screen all the time.
But to be completely fair the paintings blew my mind. The prevalence of blue and light in most paintings was beautiful, and the sea was intricately painted. Every little detail matters in Canaletto’s paintings, which could make the spectator stare at them for hours. It is amazing how, in the 18th century, Canaletto had the talent of basically photographing a scene only by painting it. “View painting”, as it is called, fascinated me as it can be tightly linked to photography nowadays.
You know how some people say that a good photograph is one that you can look at everyday and still see something you hadn’t seen before? That is how I felt watching this exhibition. It was also really interesting to compare Canaletto with his “rivals”, such as Marieschi, his nephew Bellotto and Guardi. It is obvious he influenced all of them heavily, and it was quite exciting to figure out what changed and differed in each of their styles, like in a “find the error” exercise.
I think we can pretty much conclude that I was extremely lucky to get a chance to see this exhibition, and a bit stupid for having left it to the last minute. Unfortunately, I can’t encourage you to go see it because it ended last Sunday, but I can suggest you look up Canaletto and “view painting”, hoping you will enjoy it as much as me.
Photo – Courtesy of Blog do Xexéo