Giovanni Antonio Canal

An Island in the Lagoon with a Gateway and a Church

Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)
Italian, 1697–1768

oil on canvas
20 1/8 x 27 in. (51.1 x 68.6 cm)
Friends Fund

Accession Number: 12:1967
On view in Gallery 222

Place made:
Venice, Veneto, Italy

Canaletto specialized in painting landscape views of Venice and the surrounding countryside. He sold these to travelers, primarily English gentlemen, who visited Italy on their “Grand Tour” of the European continent. Canaletto excelled in accurate renditions of Venice, but after 1730 declining tourism caused him to develop less factual representations based on imaginary combinations of architectural and topographical elements. Termed capricci, they were fanciful concoctions painted in a precise manner that disguised their fictional origins. Here, the painter has juxtaposed the Venetian lagoon with some buildings from the nearby town of Padua and a bell tower from yet a third location to create a poetic grouping of simple structures and subtle balance. This painting was intended to be seen with a companion picture that portrays the flat plains surrounding the city of Padua.This object is part of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s European Provenance Disclosure Project.


by 1768 – 1942
William Irby Boston (1706/1707-1775), 1st Baron, Hedsor Lodge, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England; Frederick Irby Boston (d.1825), 2nd Baron, by inheritance; George Irby Boston (1777-1856), 3rd Baron, by inheritance; George Ives Irby Boston (d.1869), 4th Baron, by inheritance; Florance George Henry Irby Boston (d.1877), 5th Baron, by inheritance; George Florance Irby Boston (d.1941), 6th Baron, by inheritance [1]

1942/03/06 – Leger Galleries, Ltd., London, England, purchased at the sale of the Boston collection, Christie’s, London, March 6, 1942, lot no. 52 [2]by 1962 -Mrs. John Hall – 1966 Patrick C. Hall, Longford Hall, Newport, Shropshire, England, possibly by inheritance

1966/07/06 – 1967
Georges Bernier, Paris, France, and E. V. Thaw & Co., New York, NY, USA (owned jointly), purchased at auction of the Hall collection, Sotheby’s, London, July 6, 1966, lot no. 65 [3]

1967 – Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Bernier and Thaw [4]

The main source for this provenance is the catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 488 [Constable, W.G. “Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697 1768.” 2nd ed. Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press, 1989, cat. no. 488]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.This painting is part of a pair. The other painting from the pair, “Capriccio: an Island in the Lagoon, with a Church and a Column” (Constable 487), shares the same history with this painting until they were separated following the 1966 Hall collection auction.

[1] According to the catalogue raisonné, the painting was said to have been bought by Lord Boston in Italy and to have remained with the family since it was painted. Canaletto died in 1768. If the painting was purchased from the artist as Constable suggests, then this would have been the latest that the painting could have entered the Lord Boston Collection.

[2] See the auction catalog [“Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters, the Property of the Right Hon. the Late Lord Boston.” Christie’s, London, March 6, 1942, lot no. 52].

[3] Georges Bernier is listed as the purchaser in the Sotheby’s auction catalog [“Catalogue of Important Old Master Paintings.” Sotheby’s, London, July 6, 1966, lot no. 65; list of buyers and prices, SLAM document files]. Correspondence between the Saint Louis Art Museum and Bernier indicates that Bernier owned the painting jointly with Thaw when it was sold to the Museum [letter dated March 1, 1967, SLAM document files].

[4] Invoice dated May 23, 1967 from E. V. Thaw & Co. [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control and Associate Members of the Board of Control of the City Art Museum, May 11, 1967.

Alternate Title(s):
On the Lagune……………….&newvalues=1&newstyle=single&newcurrentrecord=257

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