Supposed Self-portrait of Canaletto (Venice 1697 - Venice 1768)
British (English) School
Art / Oil paintings
1800 - 1829
Oil on panel
337 x 274 mm (13 1/4 x 10 3/4 in)
Place of origin
EnglandOrder this image
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at
For many years this painting has been called a self-portrait, but this seems unlikely, primarily because such a portrait would be unique in Canaletto’s oeuvre, which is otherwise dominated by view paintings. However, the river-scene is painted in a technique which is unmistakably Canaletto’s own, but would not have been beyond the capabilities of a copyist. It seems possible that the painting was intended to be engraved, perhaps as a frontispiece, to a projected series of engraved views. The laudatory nature of the inscription supports such a view. The simulated stone surround which encircles the figure awkwardly may have been added later. Confirmation that this area is not part of the original composition may be drawn from the fact that the craquelure here differs from that of the rest of the painting.
Oil painting on panel, Supposed Self-portrait of Canaletto (1697–1768), British (English) School, early 19th century. Within a feigned oval of stone, turned half right, eyes front, seated behind a table and in front of a circular stone-framed window opening on the Thames, with St Paul's Cathedral on far side. Wearing a green coat with gold frogging, and a plum-coloured fur-lined robe. With his right hand he is drawing the dome of St Paul's; with his left he points towards the background view. On the table, left, a palette and brushes; on the back of the chair a blank shield, supported by a lion and a unicorn. Attributed to Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768). Italian C18. Inscribed above 'Geo Antonio Da Canale. Origine Civis Venetus' Inscribed below 'Il Celebre Canalet'. Label on frame 'Antonio Canaletto 1697-1768, Self Portrait'. It is possible this painting was intended to be engraved, perhaps as a frontispiece to some projected series of engravings of Canaletto's views of London; the laudatory nature of the inscription supports this. Since the 1830's Christie's sale the painting has been called a self portrait, although there is doubt about this.
R. Ludgate sale, Christies, 1830, lot 51, bought by Seguier; Lord Clifden sale, Robinson and Fisher, 1895, lot 783, sold as Canaleet - A Portrait of himself', bought by Harris; perhaps inherited from Agar Ellis, 1st Lord Dover who acquired a large group of paintings by Guardi and Canaletto in Italy in 1829; later with Forres, London; Thence Leggatt, from whom presumably bought by Lord Fairhaven. (Exhibited - 1959 Guildhall Art Gallery, London, Canaletto in England and 1960 Royal Academy No.443, Italian Art and Britain); bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents.
Anglesey Abbey, The Fairhaven Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
Recto: Inscribed above: GEO. ANTONIO DA CANALE. ORIGINE CIVIS VENETVS; (below) IL CELEBRE CANALETO. [N.B. that inscr. looks as if it is overpainted in dark letters over light ones. The GEO., in particular, looks as if painted over GI.] Recto: Inscribed in black/dark brown, bottom left: EC or EG Recto: Inscribed on gilt tablet affixed to bottom of frame: 1697 Antonio Canaletto 1768. Self portrait.
Makers and roles
British (English) School, artist previously catalogued as attributed to Antonio Canaletto (Venice 1697 – Venice 1768) , artist
Canaletto: Celebrating Britain, Compton Verney , 2015 - 2016 Canaletto: Celebrating Britain, Holburne Museum of Art, Bath, 2015 - 2016
Canaletto in England, Exhibition. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, 1959, No.10 Italian Art and Britain, Royal Academy, 2 January - 6 March 1960, No. 443, pp.180-181: Watson, 1956: F. J. B. Watson, ‘A Self portrait by Canaletto’, Burlington Magazine, vol. XCVIII, Sept 1956, [Part I] pp.295-6 and reproduced facing p.295: Watson, 1956: F. J. B. Watson, ‘A Self portrait by Canaletto’, Burlington Magazine, vol. XCVIII, Sept 1956, [Part 2] pp.295-6 and reproduced facing p.295: Watson, 1956: F. J. B. Watson, ‘A Self portrait by Canaletto’, Burlington Magazine, vol. XCVIII, Sept 1956, [Part 3] pp.295-6 and reproduced facing p.295: Constable 1962 W. G. Constable, Giovanni Antonio Canal, Canaletto, OUP, 1962, vol. II, no. 519, pp.434-5, repd. vol. I, pl. 94; 2nd ed revised by J. G. Links, 1976. as Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768, ditto, pp.473-74 & vol.I, on pl.94; repeated without further comment in 1989 Reprint with Supplement [always as at Anglesea (sic.) Abbey]. Puppi, 1968: L. Puppi, with introduction by D. Bindman, The Complete Paintings of Canaletto Milan 1968, repd. p.83 and p.112, and cat. no. 259, p.113 Anglesey Abbey, 1990-1992 [The National Trust; Robin Fedden] 1972, revised 1990, reprinted 1992., p.16: