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Canaletto, 1697–1768
St. Paul's Cathedral
ca. 1754
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
Frame: 24 3/4 × 28 3/4 × 1 3/4 inches (62.9 × 73 × 4.4 cm), 20 1/2 x 24 1/4 inches (52.1 x 61.6 cm)

Label on verso, upper left: “Allied | 2 | Reg. No. | Printed in USA”; upper left: “Painting in England, 1700-1850 | The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Richmond 20 | Artist: Canaletto | Title: ‘St. Paul’s Cathedral’ | Medium: Oil on Canvas <Loan No.> Cat. No. 11 | Insure for: Sales Price: | Lender: Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon | Address: Upperville, Virginia”; lower center: “Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd. | No. [logo] 21722 | By Appointment | To the Late King George VI | London, | 43. Old Bond Street. | Piccadilly, W.”; lower right: “63/2/4/14”

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | carriages | carts | cathedral | children | cityscape | clock tower | coach | columns (architectural elements) | costume | cupola | dogs (animals) | dome | fountain | genre subject | horses (animals) | men | people | railing | sculptures | stairs | statues | walking
Associated Places:
City of London | England | Europe | Greater London | London | St. Paul's Cathedral | United Kingdom
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

St. Paul’s Cathedral appears in many of Canaletto’s views of the Thames, but this is the only one to show the entire building from close range. It was painted for one of Canaletto’s most important patrons in England, Thomas Hollis, who commissioned many views of London from the artist. This view of St. Paul’s represents the church’s architecture as a backdrop for the social activity taking place in the plaza and the street, with various figure groups in conversation and elegant carriages leaving or entering the scene. It is the same size and format as a view of the Campidoglio in Rome that Hollis commissioned from Canaletto (private collection). The artist and patron clearly meant for the two spaces in the two great cities to stand in comparison with one another.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

St Paul's Cathedral was designed by the architect, mathematician, and astronomer Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). First debated in 1661, plans to obliterate Commonwealth "improvements," complete Charles I's planned renovations, and to overhaul the badly deteriorating medieval cathedral-all were shelved after the Great Fire. That disaster suddenly made it possible to think of rebuilding from scratch. Construction duly began in 1675, and Parliament declared the cathedral finished in 1711. This view, from the north-east, includes Francis Bird's 1712 marble statue of Queen Anne directly in front of the great west door. The queen stands on a high plinth, attended by four allegorical figures "symbolic of the extent of her dominion." (A Victorian copy, by Richard Belt, today stands in its place.) This painting was once owned by John M. Hay, Secretary of State in the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Canaletto 1697-1768 - Museum of Rome-Palazzo Braschi (Palazzo Braschi Museum, 2018-03-29 - 2018-09-23) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Canaletto in England - A Venetian Artist Abroad, 1746-1755 (Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2007-01-24 - 2007-04-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Canaletto in England - A Venetian Artist Abroad, 1746-1755 (Yale Center for British Art, 2006-10-19 - 2006-12-31) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Canaletto to Constable: Paintings of Town and Country from the Yale Center for British Art (Ferrara Galleries of Modern & Contemporary Art, 2001-02-25 - 2001-05-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Canaletto to Constable: Paintings of Town and Country from the Yale Center for British Art (The Grand Rapids Art Museum, 1999-10-22 - 2000-01-02) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Canaletto to Constable: Paintings of Town and Country from the Yale Center for British Art (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 1998-02-08 - 1998-04-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Image of London (Barbican Art Gallery, 1987-08-06 - 1987-10-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Painting in England 1700-1850 - From The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (Yale University Art Gallery, 1965-04-15 - 1965-06-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Sir Geoffrey Agnew, Yale's 1700 Mellon Pictures, The Times (London), , April 28, 1977, p. 9, Times Digital Archive [ORBIS]

Charles Beddington, Canaletto in England, a Venetian artist abroad, 1746-1755 , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006, p.58-9, 130, cat. 4, NJ18 C17 B45 2006 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Bindman, The History of British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2008, pp. 80-81 (v.2), fig. 42, N6761 +H57 2008 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Canaletto to Constable : paintings of town and country from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 1998, p. 8, 46-7, Cat. 11, , ND1354.4 Y25 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue : Catalogue of the Choice Collection of Ancient and Modern Pictures of that Well-known Amateur Albert Levy... : 3 May 1884, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, May 3, 1884, p.21, lot 132, Fiche B51 (YCBA) Also Available online : Art Sales Catalogues Online - Lugt # 43972 [YCBA]

W. G. Constable, Canaletto : Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768., Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1976, p.96, 145 (v.1); p.414 (v.2), cat. 422 (v.2), pl. 207 (v.1), NJ18 C17 C65 1976 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 48-49, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Joan Coutu, Then and now : collecting and classicism in eighteenth-century England, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal ; Kingston ; London ; Ithaca, 2015, pp. 169-71, 172, 174, figs. 5.7, NB87.G7 C68 2015 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Eric Samuel De Maré, Wren's London, The Folio Society, London, p. 107, fig. 72, DA681 D44 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Hilda F. Finberg, Canaletto in England, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. IX, 1920-1921, p. 42-3, 63, N12 W35 +A1 v.9 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Terry Friedman, The Eighteenth-Century Church in Britain, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2011, p. 2, pl. 2, NA5466 F76 2011 + Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Front Cover, Burlington Magazine, vol. 146, August 2004, front cover, N1 +B87 (YCBA) Serials [YCBA]

Matthew Hargraves, "Yale Center for British Art joins Art UK", ArtUK, 24 June 2019, Available online https://artuk.org/discover/stories/yale-center-for-british-art-joins-art-uk [Website]

Dr. Bozena Anna Kowalczyk, Canaletto: 1697-1768, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, Milano, p. 178-179, cat. 51, NJ18.C17 A12 2018 (LC) Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. G. Links, Canaletto and his patrons, Elek, 1977, p.76, cat. 111, NJ18 C17 L55 1977 (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. G. Links, Canaletto, Phaidon, London, 1994, p. 191, 197, cat. 169, NJ18 C17 L54 1994 (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. G. Links, Canaletto, Phaidon, Oxford [Oxfordshire], 1982, p.170, cat. 170, NJ18 C17 L54+ Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Linley, Classical Furniture, Pavillion Books Limited, Great Britain, 1993, p.38, NK2235 +L56 1993 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

M. J. H. Liversidge, Canaletto & England, Merrell Holberton, London, 1993, p.25, NJ18 C17 C2 1993 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 : collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon : Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, , 1,2, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 42 (v.1), no. 11, pl. 24, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition 1964-65., , Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 1964, p. 14 (v.1), no. 44p, ND466 R68 1964/65 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Roxane Sperber, Canaletto's Colour : the inspiration and implications of changing grounds, pigments and paint applications in the artist's English period, British Art Studies, Issue 2, Spring 2016, pages are unnumbered, figs. 3, 36, 37, 38, 48, Available Online (Orbis) http://dx.doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-02/rsperber-jstenger [Website]

John Sweetman, The Enlightenment and the Age of Revolution, 1700-1850, Longman, London; New York, 1998, p.69, fig. 19, NX542 S9 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Warner, The image of London, views by travellers and emigrés 1550-1920 , Trefoil Publications, London, 1987, p. 127-128, cat. 75, N8214.5 G7 W2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Thomas Whitley, Artists and their friends in England, 1700-1799, Medici Society, London & Boston, 1928, p. 118 (v.1), N6766 W45 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Jean-Pierre Wytteman, L'Europe Baroque, no. 8030, La Documentation Française, Paris, December, 2002, pp. 36-67, Not Available at Yale [ORBIS]

Yale University Art Gallery, Painting in England, 1700-1850, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon : [exhibition at] Yale University Art Gallery, April 15-June 20, 1965, , vol. 1, W. Clowes and sons, New Haven, 1965, p. 5 (v.1), no. 19, ND466 Y35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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