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Printmaking in Venice

The city of Venice had been an important centre for printing for many centuries. In the eighteenth century visitors and collectors bought prints of the city (especially if their budgets could not stretch to paintings), and this proliferation of printing activity prompted many artists including Canaletto, Marco Ricci and Giambattista Tiepolo to experiment with etching. The technique entails drawing lines into a waxed copper plate which is bitten with acid. The plate is then inked and passed through a press, allowing the printing of many impressions.

Canaletto and his nephew Bernardo Bellotto started making etchings in the early 1740s; both were skilled in manipulating a range of light and shade on the same plate. Many of their prints take their subject matter from the countryside of the Venetian mainland, after a journey the two artists made along the Brenta canal. The countryside is scattered with locks, mills, picturesque gardens, and the country villas of the Venetian nobility.

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

Title plate with a dedication to Joseph Smith

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

La Torre di Malghera

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

The Porte Del Dolo

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

The Porte del Dolo

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

A view of a town on a river bank

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

Mestre

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

The Canale delle Barche, Mestre

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

The portico with the Lantern

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

A capriccio of Padua

Canaletto (Venice 1697-Venice 1768)

'The bishop's tomb'