The Porta Portello, Padua; Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)
Another architectural tour-de-force by the 18th century Italian master Canaletto – times two. The painting above in the top six images is in the National Gallery of Art, DC.
In the bottom four images is another version, with the same perspective but with different figures and harsher light, that is in the Museo Thussen – Bornemisza in Madrid.
There’s some question about the dating of the paintings; both could have been painted around the time of his documented trip to the city of Padua around 1740 or 1741, but some put the second painting almost twenty years later — perhaps as a “greatest hits” request from a patron. The Porta Portello is the main entrance to Padua for those traveling, like Canaletto, from Venice.
Even more visually entrancing than either painting is a preliminary ink and wash drawing that was a subject of a previous Lines and Colors post. It has been reliably dated around the time of the first painting, but presumably could have been used for both.
In both paintings, I love the contrast between Canaletto’s masterful painting of the architectural elements and his abbreviated shorthand notation for figures and things like grass texture and the surface of water. (Gotta love those little water squiggles!)