• The Stonemason's Yard

The Stonemason's Yard

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The Stonemason's Yard
Artist: Canaletto
Oil painting on canvas; Size: 124x163cm; National Gallery, London.

The Stonemason's Yard is a famous painting by artist Canaletto. The view of Venice, bathed in bright sunlight, offers us a glimpse of a landscape that has profoundly changed over time, and thus is not immediately recognizable. Canaletto seems to have painted the scene from the second floor of a building that faced onto Campo San Vidal, near the section of the Grand Canal now spanned by the Ponte dell'Accademia. On the other bank, illustrated in the painting, stands the church of La Carita, flanked by the slender campanile that collapsed in 1744; even the small building at the base of the campanile can no longer be seen today.
On the right of the church, the facade of the Scuola della Carita still has its original Gothic appearance: around 1760 it was clad in marble and became the seat of the Accademia di Belle Arti (it is now the entrance to the Gallerie dell'Accademia). Unlike Canaletto's typical vedute, this picture does not portray Venice in its immutable beauty, but at a particular moment in time. In fact Campo San Vidal was then being used for work on the new marble facade of the church of the same name, and we can see the stonemasons. rough or half-finished blocks of marble and tools used for cutting stone, such as the large pair of compasses at the center of the composition, represented with the artist's typical attention to detail. On the left the picture is enlivened by a sort of genre scene, with a child who has fallen over helped by a woman under the eyes of another child.
The landscape painting, which was already in England, in the collection of Sir Beaumont, by 1808, can be ascribed to the early part of Canaletto's career and dated to around 1730.

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