Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Canaletto drawing of Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle: The East Front from the Courtyard, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal), pen and brown ink, gray wash
Warwick Castle: The East Front from the Courtyard, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)

Pen and brown ink with gray wash over black chalk; roughly 12 x 22 inches (32 x 57 cm).

Link is to the J. Paul Getty Museum, which has the original in its collection. The Getty’s page has both a zoomable and downloadable version. There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project.

I found the Getty’s downloadable image, though it is nicely high-resolution, to be over saturated. I’ve corrected it here to be more in line with the Google Art Project version. Though I haven’t seen the original, my instincts tell me it is likely a better reflection of the appearance of the actual drawing.

The drawing is evidently a preliminary for the painting shown above, second down, that is in the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery in the UK.

I use the word “charm” a lot when referring to Canaletto’s ink drawings; largely because I find myself charmed, it not transfixed, by them. In particular, it is his use of wavering lines in place of straights for his verticals and horizontals that amaze me (most easily seen in the larger scale crop I’ve shown above, second from bottom).

The lines don’t waver far to either side of an imagined rule that keeps them true, but the effect is one of a casual sketch-like quality over rock solid draftsmanship. I find the combination to be consistantly delightful and fascinating.