The above engraving of Antonio Canal by Antonio Visentini after G.B. Piazetta, before 1735.
Special thanks to the Microsoft Corporation for permission to use following biographical information from Microsoft® Encarta '97:
Canaletto, real name Giovanni Antonio Canal, was an Italian painter known for his sparkling views of Venice. He was born in Venice on October 28, 1697, and died there on April 19, 1768. Canaletto received instruction in painting and perspective from his father, a scene designer in the high baroque tradition. He took as his specialty the relatively new and rare form of painting, the city view (veduta). His principal patrons were English aristocrats on the Grand Tour, for whom his scenes were souvenirs of the sights of Venice—the Grand Canal, the basin of Saint Mark's, plus innumerable scenes of regattas and water festivals, such as the annual celebration of the Marriage of Venice to the Sea.
Canaletto's technique had the traditional Venetian hallmarks of luminous light and glowing color, to which he added a Dutch-influenced attention to clear and accurate detail. His early works often feature dark, saturated colors that depict a moist, palpable atmosphere under a stormy or dark sky. Later works—after 1740, when Canaletto began to develop a somewhat looser, less precise style of brushwork—often portray bright sunlit scenes with rich colors highlighted by red and gold. He went to England in 1746 after the War of the Austrian Succession had drastically curtailed the stream of English visitors to Venice. He painted many scenes of English landscapes and country houses before returning to Venice in 1755. Canaletto was elected to the Venice Academy in 1763, but the paintings of his later years were increasingly criticized for their facile manner and mechanical repetition of overly familiar themes. The atmospheric quality of his best works was an important influence on 19th-century landscape painting.