Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Canaletto - Painting Britain

Westminster Bridge from the north on Lord Mayor's Day by Canaletto
Oil on canvas, 96 x 137.5 cm
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
source: Wikimedia

I was hugely disappointed yesterday to be unable to attend the lecture on Canaletto: Grand Designs is the title of a talk given by Martin Gayford at the Museum of London organised by Gresham College.

I had anticipated that it would be popular, had emailed Gresham College to find out more and to book a place and never got a reply! I found out yesterday that they don't bother taking bookings as it's "too much work" for them. As a result I'm afraid I have to take back my recommendation to attend the series of lectures as there's simply no guarantee you'll get in. It's very frustrating to get there and then be turned away.

It's not like they need to issue a ticket. They could operate the beautifully simple, efficient and economic system the National Gallery uses for their lectures - acknowledging an email which you then print off.

The woman from Greshams talked about a video being available - but as with the booking (or non booking system) there are no details on their website although they certainly do create audio and videos of their lectures. I guess I'll have to check back at some point to see what happens.

I shall be making sure of a seat for next week's lecture about Monet's River of Dreams!

[UPDATE:  The following are now available:

Canaletto: Grand Designs - Monday, 8 March 2010, Museum of London]
I've decided to make a resource about Canaletto in any case as he's such an intriguing landscape artist.


plus Martin Gayford's powerpoint lecture materials

plus you can listen to the lecture and download and save both the video and the audio.

This is what the Web Gallery of Art - which I think is one of the best of the art history resources which can be found online - has to say about the Canaletto painting at the top of this post. This is a link to their biography of Canaletto
Canaletto is first recorded in England in spring 1746, and his earliest paintings of London are depictions of the new Westminster Bridge, a subject he was to portray from various vantage points. The bridge was not actually completed until four years after this work was painted.
In this picture he combines a view of its whole span with a depiction of festivities, which, although tamer than the Venetian spectacles he generally painted, partially recall them. The celebrations accompanied the appointment of the new Lord Mayor of London. The largest City Barge is shown taking him to Westminster Hall, by the Abbey at the right, where he will be sworn in. The prominent building on the horizon to the left of it is St John's Church, Smith Square, and over on the other side of the river is Lambeth Palace, the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. All the other spectacular barges are those of the different city guilds (Skinners, Goldsmiths, Fishmongers, Clothworkers, Vinters, Merchant Taylors, Mercers and Dyers); a number of them are firing salutes to honour the Mayor. In order to encapsulate all of this activity within such a broad panorama Canaletto has adopted an imaginary vantage point high above the Thames.
Web Gallery of Art - London: Westminster Bridge from the North on Lord Mayor's Day

1 comment:

Leslie Hawes said...

I really enjoyed reading the Web Gallery Of Art, biography of Canaletto paragraphs in the article.
Thinking that the Westminster Bridge was new, and that this painting was the 'photograph of the event', and reading the names of the guilds, and seeing how certain surnames came into usage.

It would be curious to know how many other painters of the time did a rendition of this event.

How frustrating to not know if there will be room at a lecture. Hope the Monet is doesn't disappoint in the same way.

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