Born in Venice, one of Canaletto's favoured subjects was his native city: even today, the popular image of the famous Venetian canals owes a considerable deal to the landscapes painted by Canaletto. Yet Venice was not the only city that gave him inspiration. Canaletto's paintings became internationally successful, with Britain proving to be a particularly lucrative market for him. So much so, in fact, that he eventually moved to London. There, he began using the streets and buildings of Britain's capital as his new source of inspiration, bringing a distinctly continental eye to the sights familiar to so many Londoners. He painted a wide number of London scenes during this phase of his career, amongst them a painting entitled London: The Thames from Somerset House Terrace.
With this painting, Canaletto brought his experience with depicting the canals of Venice to the quintessentially English subject of the Thames. The canvas is dominated by the river; although dry land curves across the left of the frame, it seems comparatively sparse. Instead, it is the majestic river that is depicted as the true home of London life. Fishing boats dot the surface of the Thames, their sailors visible in expertly-recreated poses of activity. Even a modern-day photographer with all of the sophisticated camera equipment of today would struggle to capture London life as precisely, as succinctly, as Canaletto captured his eighteenth-century surroundings in this painting. If you are an art lover with a taste for landscapes and a fondness for London subjects, then London: The Thames from Somerset House Terrace will make a fine choice for a print.
It is a painting that crossed boundaries between countries, bringing the flavour of Venetian canals to London's famous river, and in the same way it also crosses the boundaries between times. Today, it retains all of its appeal: you can almost imagine the fishermen in the boats still going about their daily lives. Make no mistake, London: The Thames from Somerset House Terrace is a painting that will bring a whole new flavour, a new spirit, to your home when you put a print of it on display.