Royal Collection, London
In 1742 the great Venetian artist Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697-1768), better known as Canaletto, painted five large views of Rome's greatest monuments.
It is thought that the paintings formed a special commission for Canaletto's great friend and patron Joseph Smith (1682-1770), who was the British Consul in Venice from 1744 to 1760.
Rome, where Canaletto lived from 1719 to 1720, was the high point of the Grand Tour and the monuments are seen through the eyes of brightly dressed tourists. Some carry guidebooks, while others are accompanied by a soberly dressed guide, known as a cicerone.
In 1762 Smith sold his extensive collection of paintings (including the works by Canaletto), prints and drawings to King George III.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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