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Capriccio: The Rialto Bridge and The Church of S. Giorgio Maggiore (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 1750
66 x 45 inches (167.6 x 114.3 centimeters)


Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina

Object Number
European Italian
European to 1910

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • The painting includes two prominent structures in Venice, Italy: the Rialto Bridge and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Both structures were built during the Renaissance and feature designs based on classical antiquity. 
  • The cityscape depicted in this painting is not real. Canaletto depicted famous landmarks from different areas of Venice and made them appear to be located beside one another. 
  • Capriccio is the Italian word for a whim. The term is used to describe made-up scenes like this one. 
  • Canaletto is known for his capriccio works because of his skill in capturing detail and creating balance. These qualities make fictional scenes appear more realistic. 
  • Canaletto often painted souvenirs for travelers on the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour was a popular trip among wealthy, young English men in the 18th century. They studied ruins, cities, landscapes, and artworks across Europe. The tour was intended to support a man’s university education. Venice was a common stop on the Grand Tour because many classical buildings and artworks are located there.

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Canaletto was one of the most successful European artists of his time, and his most eager audience was grand tourists who commissioned painted views of Venice as souvenirs. His precise technique gives these works the illusion of accuracy, but he often subtly adjusted architectural details, viewpoints, and topography to create a more harmonious painting.

On occasion he took even greater artistic license. This painting combines two famous landmarks from completely different areas of Venice: the Rialto Bridge at left and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore at right. The Italian word capriccio (whim or fancy) is used to describe these playful compositions.


tags: light, weather, boats, water

Additional Resources

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Resources for Students:


  • An oil painting depicting a view of Venice, Italy. The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore is in the foreground on the right, and the Rialto Bridge is in the background on the left. The sky is blue with a few clouds, and a bell tower stands in the upper right corner.

    Capriccio: The Rialto Bridge and The Church of S. Giorgio Maggiore