Canaletto’s masterpiece plays a leading role in the proclamation of King Charles | King Charles III

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The artist’s father, Canaletto, painted stage sets and the theatrical tricks of light and perspective he passed on to his famous son were displayed in the magnificent setting of Saturday’s Accession Council meeting at St James’s Palace.

The oil painting so prominent was painted in 1744 and bought by George III in 1762. The Grand Canal with Santa Maria della Salute looking east towards Bacino shows the large church of Santa Maria della Salute, enthroned above the water in the strong morning sun. Measuring more than 2 meters (7 feet) wide, it was signed by the artist – real name Giovanni Antonio Canal – on the moored barge in front of the composition.

It is one of many views of Venice, both in oils and sketches, originally collected or commissioned by Canaletto’s entrepreneurial agent, the British Consul Joseph Smith. An 1819 Buckingham Palace inventory records that the painting hung in the King’s own bedroom.

Many important royal paintings are now away from their London homes and are displayed at the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh, but this one stayed behind. Its choice as the setting for a king’s proclamation is slightly undermined by the fact that Venice was proudly republican at the time it was painted and purchased and remained so until 1797 as La Serenissima, or the Serene Republic.

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