Grand Canal: Looking South-West
Oil on canvas, 124 x 204 cm
National Gallery, London
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The painting presents the view of the Grand Canal from the Chiesa degli Scalzi to the Fondamenta della Croce, with San Simeone Piccolo.
The church of San Simeone Piccolo, at the left, was rebuilt between 1718 and 1738 after a design by the architect Scalfarotto. It is depicted here completed, hence the dating of the painting to about 1738. Canaletto had earlier painted other versions of the same composition, including a picture in the Royal Collection which was engraved by Visentini as part of the Prospectus Magni Canalis series of prints.
This view of the upper reaches of the Grand Canal is now considerably altered by the city's modern railway station which dominates and disrupts its right side. The artist has depicted some craft plying their way across the canal, including a passenger barge at the left, but the scene is a relatively peaceful one. He seems to have been particularly preoccupied with the gently distorted mirror-image of the buildings reflected on the surface of the water.