Canaletto’s nephew (the son of Fiorenza, the sister of the great vedutista ), Bernardo Bellotto started work with his famous uncle when he was still very young, mainly drawing or painting copies of his maestro’s works. But it was as early as 1738 that his name appeared in the Fraglia list of Venetian painters, which demonstrates that, even though he was only 16 years old, he already had an activity of his own.
The painting shown here is one of four capricci — two vertical and two horizontal — which were evidently designed to decorate a single, vast private room. It was purchased in 1835 by the Galleria Nazionale in Parma from the collection of Count Stefano Sanvitale, who considered it to be a work by Francesco Guardi. The correct attribution to Bellotto was first put forward by Corrado Ricci as early as 1896 and it is unanimously accepted by the critics, who consider this group of canvases to be some of the finest of all Bellotto’s youthful works.