Cranleigh Arts Centre
West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
Report on the Lecture given by Elizabeth Gordon on 25th
Gordon is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music, lived in Italy for
seventeen years and now lectures at many of the major museums of Europe, the USA
and Australia and also on Swan Hellenic Cruises.
Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697-1768) was born in Venice, the son of
Bernardo Canal, hence his mononym Canaletto (little Canal). He served his
apprenticeship with his father and brother as a theatrical scene painter, which
perhaps gave him his skill in the use of perspective. He was inspired by the
Roman landscape artist, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, and started painting the daily
life of the city and its people. His early paintings were done in fairly sombre
colours but in his famous topographical style. He made sketches in notebooks
from various angles and heights and then produced the completed paintings in his
studio. "The Stonemason's Yard" (1726) in shades of tawny brown, grey
and cream is a typical example of his early work and is in the National Gallery.
Later Canaletto became known for his grand Venetian scenes. His large
scale landscapes portrayed the city's famed pageantry and waning traditions,
making use of atmospheric effects and strong colours - red, green, yellow, blue
The merchant banker, Joseph Smith, acted as Canaletto's agent
helping him sell to Englishmen on the Grand Tour. He himself was an avid
collector and sold much of his collection to George III creating the bulk of
Canalettos which are still part of the Royal Collection. .
Canaletto moved to London to be closer to his market and remained in England
producing views of London and his patrons' country houses and castles. His
popularity waned as his work began to suffer from repetitiveness. On his return
to Venice he was elected to the Venetian Academy in 1763 and continued to paint
until his death in 1768.
Francesco Guardi (1712-1793) was influenced
in his early work by Canaletto's landscapes. However, he developed his own
style which was later to be highly regarded by the Impressionists with buildings
which appear to be melting and sinking into the murky lagoon.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was also a Venetian. Known as "the
red priest" for his flaming red hair, he was ordained in 1703. He
inherited his father's musical ability on the violin and was a prodigious
composer throughout his life. There is no record of his ever having met
Canaletto although each must have been aware of the other.
one of the highest reputations for music in Europe. Much of this was based on
the work of the Ospedali. These were often referred to as "orphanages"
and, although they were ostensibly for illegitimate and orphaned girls, they
were in fact homes for the female offspring of noblemen and their mistresses.
The Ospedali were well endowed by their "anonymous" fathers with
opulent furnishings and musical standards second to none.
Vivaldi was employed as a violin teacher by the Ospedale della Pietà.
Many of his concerti are exercises which he would play with his talented
pupils. The brilliance of the solo writing testifies to the extremely high
standard attained by his pupils.
Between 1710 and 1720 Vivaldi travelled widely in Europe and was
extremely active as a composer (with no less than twelve concerti published in
Amsterdam in 1711) both for the concert hall and for the opera. In November
1716, for example, the Ospedale performed his first oratorio describing the
victory of the Venetians over the Turks earlier that year. On one score,
written in Mantua, in his own handwriting are the words "Music by Vivaldi,
made in five days").
In Mantua he met the singer, Anna Giraud,
and she moved in to live with him. He maintained that she was his housekeeper
and good friend, just like Anna's sister, Paolina, who also shared his house.
Vivaldi stayed with Anna until his death.
Commissions came from Louis
XV, several Cardinals and the City of Venice itself. For example, he was
required to send two concerti a month to Venice, being paid a ducat per
concerto. He was well paid for the eight operas he wrote between 1725 and 1728.
"The Trial of Harmony and Invention", Opus 8, was published in
Amsterdam in 1725 and consisted of twelve concerti, one of which was "The
In 1740 he resigned from the Ospedale and moved
to Vienna under the patronage of Charles VI, having worked in Prague, Mantua and
Verona during the 1730s. His stay here was short-lived as he died probably from
asthmatic bronchitis the following year. Like Mozart, fifty years later, he had
a modest burial. Anna Giraud returned to Venice dying ten years later.
Until 1950 Vivaldi's huge output of music was hardly known. The pianist, Olga
Rudge, discovered the long lost manuscripts in a library and "The Four
Seasons" became an overnight sensation.
Gordon receives a warm welcome
from the CDFAS Chairman