Canella Giuseppe, Barges at the Rialto
works associated
connected artists

1,833; oil on canvas
cm. 36,2 x 48,8
signed and dated bottom left: “Canella 1833”; on the back: stamp “Galleria d’Arte/Molino delle Armi srl”, signature in ballpoint pen “Sandra Peroni”; top of the stretcher in ink: “Canella”; bottom in ballpoint: “Giuseppe Canella – barconi a Rialto”
Inventory: AH01521AFC
Provenance: Milan, Galleria d’Arte Molino delle Armi; Finarte, auction 537, Milan, 18 March 1986
Exibition: 2010, Pavia, n. 3

The work was painted in 1833 and shows the Rialto bridge on the Grand Canal with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi and the Fabbriche Vecchie on the right and the Fondaco Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the left. It does not appear to have been one of the Venetian views presented the following year at the Esposizione di Belle Arti di Brera, where the numerous canvases shown included Riva degli Schiavoni and The Mouth of the Rio di Castello in Venice.

Canella’s presence in Venice is securely documented in 1815 and again in 1837 on the occasion of his long East European journey through the cities of Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, Pest and Prague. The date of the work does not rule out the possibility of the view having been studied during the artist’s first stay in Venice, as he built up his figurative repertoire by filling his sketchbooks with as many subjects as possible, drawn from life with great fluency during his travels for later use, sometimes after an interval of many years. This working method is documented, for example, by Seascape on the Coast of Barcelona (1833) and Travellers at Rest in Spain (1839, Brescia, Civici Musei) , both based on a trip to Spain made in the period 1820–22.

The same view of the Rialto was depicted by Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, in a celebrated painting formerly in the collection of Joseph Smith, the British consul in Venice (Royal Collection at Winsor Castle), which Canella may have known through the engraving by Antonio Visentini, in circulation as from 1735. While Canaletto’s work focuses on the precise depiction of the monumental buildings, painted from different angles and suitably rearranged within a panoramic view, Canella’s sticks very close to reality and was unquestionably painted on the spot from a slightly low and off-centre viewpoint in such a way as to highlight the mercantile activities at the expense both of the buildings, where lively figures are shown hanging out the washing on the terraces, and of the bridge itself, which is half-hidden in the distance.

For this painting too, Canella drew contrasting reactions from critics on the occasion of the exhibitions in Milan by adopting a bright, enamel-like kind of light borrowed from the northern landscape painting that the artist had the opportunity to study during his repeated travels in the Netherlands.

Through his realistic approach and handling of light and atmosphere, the artist championed a radical renewal in perspective view painting with respect both to the romantic and to the Venetian models that were very popular at the time in Milan, where they had been widely circulated as from the mid-1810s through precise small-sized copies of works by Giovanni Migliara (including the View of the Doges’ Palace in Venice, Cariplo Collection) and by the Venetian painter Bernardino Bison as from 1831. Evidence of the commercial success of this Venetian subject in particular with a cultured international clientele is also provided by the (now lost) canvas painted by Giuseppe Canella around 1838 for Count Kolowrat, the Austrian minister of state and a great collector of Italian art, which may have been a replica of the work in the Cariplo Collection.

From November 2011, the work has been on view at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan.


Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Archivistico Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica no. 879 R/698


Dipinti del XIX secolo, Asta 537, Finarte, Milano, 1986, n. 266, p.121, ill.;
Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, p. 230, ill. n. 427 (come Carlo Canella);
Paola Zatti, Giuseppe Canella, Barconi a Rialto, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 41, p. 106, ill. (scheda ripubblicata in Maria Teresa Fiorio – Sergio Rebora, a cura di, 2010);
Flavia Pesci, Da Verona all’Europa. Giovanni, Giuseppe e Carlo Canella nella paesaggistica dell’Ottocento, in Sergio Marinelli, a cura di, L’Ottocento a Verona, Cariverona Banca, Verona, 2001, p. 50;
Maria Teresa Fiorio – Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Da Hayez a Sironi. La pittura moderna in Lombardia attraverso le opere della Fondazione Cariplo, catalogo della mostra, Pavia, Castello Visconteo, Sala del Rivellino, 30 aprile – 23 maggio 2010, Skira, Milano, 2010, n. 3, p. 22, ill. p. 23;
Paola Segramora Rivolta, in Fernando Mazzocca, a cura di, Da Canova a Boccioni. Le collezioni della Fondazione Cariplo e di Intesa Sanpaolo, Skira, Milano, 2011, n. VI.80, p. 207, ill.

Elena Lissoni
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