Canaletto and His Rivals, Views of the City of Light

Canaletto, Santa Maria della Salute

This exhibition of 50 18th century paintings of La Serenissima caught my critical eye as well as my heart.  On the one year anniversary of my internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection I find myself reminiscing about my three months in the city of light.  These paintings, the predecessors to the kitsch souvenirs and postcards of today, capture this magical city and perpetuate the myth of this watery deamland, straddling the line between charmed and profane.  Although her architecture is sophisticated and often imposing (especially Palladio’s churches and the Campanile), Venezia’s real majesty lies in the way she perpetually defies nature, often slowly and tragically losing the battle.  She is so whimsically impractical with her gondolas and sinking buildings, it is irresistible.  As Thomas Mann so compellingly put it in Death in Venice:

He saw it once more, that landing-place that takes the breath away, that amazing
group of incredible structures the Republic set up to meet the awe-struck eye of the
approaching seafarer: the airy splendour of the palace and Bridge of Sighs, the columns
of lion and saint on the shore, the glory of the projecting flank of the fairy temple, the
vista of gateway and clock. Looking, he thought that to come to Venice by the station is
like entering a palace by the back door. No one should approach, save by the high seas as he was doing now, this most improbable of cities.


About projectpatrimonio

Helena Boyden Lamb, born 1985 in New York, has studied and worked in Politics, Heritage Ethics and Politics, and Opera Singing. Most recently, she is working in Brussels where she started in a European Think Tank and is now the Executive Office of a NGO which facilitates Youth Politics across the EU. She has a Bachelor with Honors from Stanford University, California in Classics: Politics and Heritage and a Masters with Honors from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK in European Identity. She has conducted academic or independent grant-funded research in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, and Albania. She was, previously, an archaeologist and an opera singer. Cynthia Querio is a Museum Educator currently living and working in Los Angeles. She is interested in heritage and identity politics and the role of museum education departments in the trajectory of this debate. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a 9 month graduate internship at the Getty Villa's education department and has continued to work in many museums in Los Angeles including LACMA and the Autry National Center. Her academic background is in the Classics, which was her major at Stanford University and which she continued to pursue with a Masters in the History of Classical Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
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