Venetian painter, the most famous view-painter of the 18th century. Canaletto began work painting theatrical scenery (his father's profession). By 1723 Canaletto was painting dramatic and picturesque views of Venice, marked by strong contrasts of light and shade and free handling, this phase of his work culminating in the splendid Stone Mason's Yard (National Gallery, London, c. 1730). In 1746 Canaletto went to England and for a time he was very successful, painting views of London and of various country houses. Subsequently, his work became increasingly lifeless and mannered, so much so that rumors were put about, probably by rivals, that he was not in fact the famous Canaletto but an impostor. In 1755 Canaletto returned to Venice and continued active for the remainder of his life.
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