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The Rio dei Mendicanti and St Mark's School
18th Century
The Rio dei Mendicanti and St Mark's School
[Il Rio dei Mendicanti alla Scuola di San Marco]
Oil on canvas
42 x 60 cm  [HxW]
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venezia

Canaletto’s only true pupil was his nephew Bernardo Bellotto, the son of his sister Fiorenza. Even contemporary sources certify that Bernardo started out by copying his uncle’s drawings and paintings, and that these works were often confused with those of his maestro. The view in the Gallerie dell’Accademia, which was purchased in 1856 from the famous Manfrin collection in Venice, was in the past the object of much contention concerning the attribution (Ruskin, for example, believed it to be by Canaletto) and it was only after the 1958 restoration that it was almost universally ascribed to Bellotto. When the work was cleaned, some typical aspects of Bernardo’s style came to light, and it can be seen to be one of his earlier works, rather than by Canaletto, even though the maestro’s hand can be seen in his pupil’s work. The nephew takes a greater interest in reality, with a more precise and distinct rendering of each detail, the use of colder and more intense colour, tending to give greater weight to the shadows, which are always very dark, and lengthening the little figures, which appear more filiform than in his uncle’s works.

Filippo Pedrocco

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