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The Tower of Malghera

The topographic view emerged as an important genre in the first three decades of the century. Its origin lies in the commemorative history painting that recorded festivals and important events, and it became a popular form of decorative imagery, particularly among travelers who valued it as a type of souvenir. Canaletto’s view of a fifteenth-century tower is a synthesis of idealism and realism. The tower was built as a fortification to guard the northern approach to Venice. It stood before the Euganean Hills at the edge of the lagoon near Mestre. With his vedute, Canaletto provides the modern viewer a glimpse of the bygone past, presenting not only a bastion of the Renaissance but also a description of the fisherman’s daily activities, as some ready their boats for a day’s work, and others carry their eel baskets along the shore.

Canaletto was the first Italian view painter to achieve international acclaim. He was best known for his views of Venice, but he also painted scenes of the Veneto (the mainland surrounding Venice), as well as a few imaginary ruinscapes.

Canaletto
Venetian, 1697–1768
The Tower of Malghera from Views(Vedute)
ca. 1740–44
Etching on paper
Image: 11 3/8 x 16 11/16 in. (28.9 x 42.4 cm); plate/sheet: 11 5/8 x 16 13/16 in. (29.5 x 42.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 69.50