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Prà della Valle

Most often Canaletto chose to characterize his cities by selecting a well-known landmark. In a more or less direct transcription from nature, this etching records one of the largest piazzas in existence, located in Padua, a city not far from his native Venice. Canaletto drew this view during his trip along the Brenta early in the 1740s. A vast unpaved square, in parts overgrown with marsh grass, the piazza is surrounded by identifiable churches and palaces. A consistently vital element of Canaletto’s city views is the description of the teeming life. Here he has populated the image with numerous figures, dogs, horses, coaches, and wagons.

This print is part of a two-part panoramic view. The other half of the scene, Santa Giustina in Prà della Valle, is also in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection (Eskenazi Museum of Art 71.46.10). That the two images were intended to be joined together is revealed by the partial outline of the man’s coat printed at the bottom of each image, which demonstrates how the two images were to be overlapped.

Canaletto
Venetian, 1697–1768
Prà della Valle from Views (Vedute)
ca. 1740–44
Image: 11 5/8 x 16 15/16 in. (29.5 x 43.0 cm); sheet: 13 ½ x 18 13/16 in. (34.3 x 47.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, William H. Conroy Memorial, 71.58