Friday, January 21, 2011

Canaletto & His Rivals at the National Gallery

Venice: Canaletto & his Rivals - National Gallery, London
pen and ink and coloured pencils in moleskine sketchbook, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
These are a couple of sketches from Venice: Canaletto & His Rivals - the recent exhibition at the National Gallery in London

This is now in the process of transferring to the National Gallery of Art in Washington (see Venice: Canaletto & His Rivals February 20–May 30, 2011).  If you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it as an excellent exhibition of its kind.
The exhibition celebrates the rich variety of these Venetian views, known as vedute, through some 20 masterworks by Canaletto and more than 30 by his rivals, including Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi, and Bernardo Bellotto. Responding to an art market fueled largely by the Grand Tour, these gifted painters depicted the famous monuments and vistas of Venice in different moods and seasons.
It has a lot of amazing paintings. What I particularly valued was seeing the same view painted by different artists, some of whom were influenced by the earlier paintings.

One of the interesting aspects about the painting is the difference between
  • artists who painted the figures - and Venice was the backdrop
  • artists who painted Venice - and the people are part of the scene in the same way as every other part of the scene
Canaletto is one of the latter.

Venice: Canaletto & his Rivals (Room 1) - National Gallery, London
pen and ink and coloured pencils in moleskine sketchbook, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I find I sketch the interiors of galleries much more in winter when the scope to sit outside is limited by the wind, rain, cold and snow.  I have my fingers crossed that we're not having any more snow.

These sketches are determined by: where the seats are, locations where I can get a good view of one room looking into another; drawing figures one at a time - as they come and go.  I find it's important to get the height of the first one right and to note the general proportions of people in front and behind are relative to that figure.  Guards are good for this as they tend not to move much for long periods.

While doing the sketch of Room 1 I found out what happens if somebody attempts to take a photo of one of the paintings with a cameraphone.  The gentleman in question was politely but firmly escorted out of the exhibition by one of the guards......and I didn't see him return.



  1. Great sketches, Katherine. You've got this gallery sketching down to a fine art - pun intended. :)

  2. I'll TRY to sketch in our National Gallery (Washington, DC) when the wonderful Canaletto and His Rivals exhibit arrives, but I usually spend my time, just looking and enjoying.
    B. J. Adams

  3. I do that too BJ - however I find paking myself - with a couple of rests and a sit down while I'm going round - means I have more time to absorb what's actually in the exhibition.

    This time I also played my audioguide twice for each pic and was absolutely amazed by how much I missed the first time when looking and listening at the same time.

  4. Beautiful sketches! I also appreciate your advices on how to draw a sketch inside a museum... a good idea for these cold days of winter. I remember I saw some vedute by Canaletto in the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin - wonderful!!!

  5. Great sketches Katherine.

    I also saw the Canalettos in Turin.

  6. I simply love looking at your sketches!! Beautiful. Thanks for the advise. Yes...guards stand still longer! Hmmm...who knew they'd spot the phone camera!


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