Venice: Santa Maria della Salute (the full title of the artwork is "Venice: the Grand Canal with Santa Maria della Salute towards the Riva degli Schiavoni") was painted by Giovanni Antonio Canal, who was more commonly known as Canaletto (which means 'little canal'), and was completed and signed in 1744.
The scene depicts the view towards the east across the Grand Canal, with the Santa Maria della Salute church on the right hand side. This is thought to be one of Canaletto's largest pieces of art and experts believe that he wanted to convey how impressive and grand the church was in comparison to the canal and the other buildings across from it.
The oil on canvas painting is currently housed in the Weston Collection in London, but was at one stage acquired by King George III.
As with many of Canaletto's paintings, he was inspired by the city of Venice and loved to paint city scenes of regular daily life. The cities of Rome and London have also inspired some of his works of art, amongst other places. He particularly admired Giovanni Paolo Pannini, a Roman architect and painter, who loved to create a similar style of landscape paintings.
Canaletto was also taught and mentored by the older artist Luca Carlevaris, who also specialised in city landscapes. Many believe that Canaletto actually eclipsed Carlevaris in terms of talent and popularity, and it is said that he added more light to his paintings than Carlevaris ever did.
Carlevaris also inspired Canaletto's father, Bernardo Canal, who created similar works of art, but mainly worked as a scene painter for the theatres. Canaletto completed his apprenticeship alongside his brother and father, and undertook some scene painting work before moving onto oil paintings and landscapes.
Canaletto went on to teach other artists and amongst his students were Bernardo Bellotto (his nephew), Giuseppe Moretti, Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi and Gabriele Bella. The artist Giuseppe Bernardino Bison was also a great admirer of Canaletto's work and went on to follow his style.
Canaletto's landscapes were always very popular and would sell for high amounts at auction. The record amount for one of his artworks (View of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi to the Rialto) was £18.6 million and sold for this at London's Sotheby's in July 2005.