Giuseppe Canella, born in Verona in 1788, was one of the most important vedutisti of the nineteenth century in the Veneto, thanks to the new atmospheric effects he succeeded in introducing into the academic-style veduta. He began painting under the wing of his father Giovanni, who worked as a set designer, perspective painter and quadraturist.
From decoration to landscape painting
Giuseppe gained his first experience in the field of scenographic decoration and in the decoration of palaces in Verona, Mantua and Venice. A taste purely inspired by neoclassical Arcadia characterised his early production, all centred on an academicism that led him to study, observe and rework Lorrain’s paysage classique.
In fact, his true vocation was landscape painting, and he quickly moved from wall decoration to canvases. This change came about following a very important stay in Venice in 1815, which enabled him to get closer to Venetian landscape painting, particularly Canaletto’s 18th-century work, which he then mediated through numerous travel experiences in the 1920s, the years in which he also began to exhibit at Brera. He travelled to Spain, where he visited Madrid, Alicante, Valencia and Barcelona in order to escape, in a certain sense, the limiting conception of Milanese landscape painting, where Migliara’s academic style reigned supreme.
An important and long stay in Paris dates back to 1822 and ended in 1828. From then on, until 1831, he travelled between Holland, Normandy and Alsace, establishing himself firmly as a Vedutist in France. From 1826 to 1828 he exhibited at the Parisian Salons, receiving numerous awards and medals and above all the appreciation of Louis-Philippe, who became his collector.
Vedutism between Europe and Italy: precious colours and atmospheric data
The French experience was fundamental for Canella: a series of notebooks shows us how he was very skilled in drawing from life, rapid, synthetic, rich in chiaroscuro effects, then carried over from the studies to the final drafting of the views, enriched by an intense atmospheric configuration. Naturally, his style was influenced by the neo-Flemish character of the colour learnt in Holland, combined with Italian landscape painting and enriched with a loose line, much appreciated by the French and Lombard aristocracy.
His return to Italy was therefore marked by great success, especially thanks to the exhibition in 1832 of the painting The Dyers of Rouen, now at the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo in Brescia. Always travelling for exhibitions and work between Vienna, Paris and Berlin, he turned down the chair of landscape painting at the Accademia di Venezia.
Between 1838 and 1839 he stopped in Rome and Naples, from where he brought back evocative studies and views of great value, mostly dedicated to the Lazio countryside and animated by small figures engaged in their daily activities and set in a casual and precious chromatic layout. At the end of the Thirties, he settled in Milan, although he continued to travel throughout Europe, literally covered in commissions.
In the 1840s he regularly exhibited at exhibitions in Turin: in 1843 he presented Country by the Sea, in 1844 View of Lake Brivio, in 1845 Country with the Bottom of Lake Garda, Pallanza on Lake Maggiore, Stormy Marina with Setting Sun. His last views appeared in Turin in 1847, the year of his death, which occurred while he was staying in Florence.