Aberdeen University’s Canaletto Rediscovered; A nineteenth-Century Collector and his Bequest

An illustrated talk by John Gash.

24 October 2019 at 7:15pm.

John Gash, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art at Aberdeen University, published an article in the December 2017 issue of The Burlington Magazine, co-authored with leading Canaletto specialist, Charles Beddington, authenticating an important painting in the University collection by the renowned eighteenth-century Venetian view painter, Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto (1697-1768). Previously sometimes assumed to be an example of Canaletto’s School, the Capriccio with Roman Ruins and a Bishop’s Tomb(c.1742) is in fact an autograph work of the highest quality. The article, entitled “Paintings by Canaletto and his father in Aberdeen University, also attributes a View of the Grand Canal with San Simeone Piccolo and the Scalzi in the University to Canaletto’s father, Bernardo Canal (1673-1744), originally a stage designer but, towards the end of his life, a copyist of his son’s views of Venice. The pictures have a local interest in that they were left to Marischal College in 1863, together with other paintings and his priceless collection of Greek vases, by Alexander Henderson of Caskieben, Dyce, that they may assist in forming and diffusing among my fellow townsmen a taste for the fine arts.” To supplement the Capriccio, the University has recently acquired a fine impression of Canaletto’s most famous etching,The Portico with a Lantern (c.1740-44), with the aid of grants from the then Principal, Sir Ian Diamond, former Vice-Principal, Derek Ogston, and the Scottish Government’s Fund for Acquisitions. John Gash’s talk will seek to explain the reasons behind the authentication and to locate the picture within the wider context of eighteenth-century Venetian art.


Capriccio with Roman Ruins and a Bishop’s Tomb, by Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, c. 1742. Oil on canvas, 53 x 71 cm. (University of Aberdeen).