Sometimes Midsummer night’s dreams come true, and it sometimes happens that two rivers meet without an apparent reason and become a bigger and stronger one. At the dawn of modern tourism, because of The Grand Tour, a kind of Erasmus especially popular with young British upper middle class, Milords’ were travelling to Venice. That’s how they knew each other, and that’s how the Great Island felt rocked in love by the tiny one at that very moment. Canaletto was the Cupid of this romance, one of the last painters of the Venetian School, who used his paintbrushes as arrows, and his canvas as a bow.
Canaletto was The Boss of the Veduta Style, and his sexy lady was Venetia. A precise genre full with details of each corner of a landscape, close to the topography technic. Something that just a good lover can do. Looking at his paintings it’s admirable the way that this Venetian painter appreciated his birthplace and valued it, despite being used to it. His canvases were like maps of what he considered his Plot of gold. And he made lots of maps and he shared them with the whole world, maybe because of that, he died penniless. It is also understandable that British gentlemen, bought his Venetian paintings as if they were postcards and took them to the Great Island as if they had discovered something brilliant, which indeed they had.
However, as soon as the Austrian Succesion War started, the British, to his dismay, stopped visiting Venice and Canaletto, because of economic needs, moved to London, to be close to his loyal public. And of course, during the nine years that he spent in the city, the Thames and some London’s corners were included in his works. He tried really hard to be addapted to the city, to keep calm and paint on, but even though his London paintings were brilliant and also imitated by The Queen Elizabeth II in her Diamond Jubilee’s paraphernalia, they couldn’t touch hearts as well as his Venetian ones did it. Maybe because of his bittersweet longing or maybe he was man of just one wife. Love is like surprise, you can’t hide it, you can’t force it.
It’s said that if you are tired of London, you are tired of life, but although is true that you can never end what to do or what to learn there, I partly disagree with this slogan. First: because the man who said that, Samuel Johnson, was English, and secondly, because for those who really love and feel their roots, can’t help feeling homesick. And Canaletto, like his paintings show, was a man with sense and sensibility, worthy of appearing in any Jane Austen book.
Canaletto returned at home not being satisfied with his work in London, but totally happy to be again in Venice and paint it again. Ordinary people think that through the years, love in a couple, reach the end, but Canaletto loved the Canal’s city with passion all his life, and as in the best of the tales, they lived happily ever after, and like in Spain we would do, maybe they ate partridges as well, sure they did.
There is something magical about that tiny island that has given birth to people as Tiziano, Tintoretto, Vivaldi, Guardi or Canaletto, just not ordinary people, just special ones.
Little Venice, just a nice coincidence?
You can find a little piece of Venice in London, walking along the Regents Canal, from Camden to Paddington. There are plenty of small boats, bridges and details that remind you to Venice. It’s difficult to know how this zone became such a magical place, it doesn’t seems London at all, but indeed it is. Maybe it is just a nice coincidence or maybe, and that’s a personal point, Venice sent it to Canaletto, during the time he spent in London, to take care of him, then he couldn’t feel cold, nor fear or loneliness. And so, it was a magical present, as magical as after the Second World War this zone of London was intact and when newspapers realized that, Londoners really appreciated it and began to use it, recognizing it as Little Venice.
London’s teleportation to Italy
To complete the Italian tour, I put up here some pics of other seductive places where you can find italian nuances.
Portobello, not just a market
Eel Pie Island, charming and historical