Birmingham – Barber Institute of Fine Arts (The Loggetta, Venice by Canaletto)

I thought that this was a bemusing painting by Canaletto as he’s one of my favourite artists and this looks ridiculous. However, the information panel by the painting revealed the truth, which is that the top of the artwork was at some stage cut off. Bloody vandals…. It’s thought that it was to fit the painting above a door, with the top section of the Loggetta being painted out. The information panel doesn’t say, but I assume that it was cut down on the left hand side as well, as it looking irritatingly uncentred.

The artwork was purchased by the Barber Institute in 1954 and it was during cleaning of the painting in 1964 that the painted out section at the top was revealed and then restored. The Loggetta, or bell tower, was constructed between 1537 and 1540 and the artwork was painted in the mid 1730s.

I like paintings with provenance, and this is fortunately available for this one from throughout some of its history. It was purchased by the gallery from the art dealer Mr Edward Speelman in 1954 for £3,000 and it had been purchased at Sotheby’s in May the year before by a Mr. Murray for £2,300. Before that it had been owned by Sir Robert Mond who was an archaeologist and then before that it was owned by G. A. F. Cavendish-Bentinck MP, a prominent Conservative politician, who had sourced the painting from the art dealer Martin Colnaghi. Before that the artwork was owned by James Whatman who was the Liberal MP for Maidstone and West Kent and before that it was owned by George Gee.