Giovanni Antonio Canal "Canaletto" (1697-1768) was an Italian artist, best known for his landscapes of Venice. His earliest datable works are four views of Venice (1725-6), which made him famous at the expense of Luca Carlevaris, his precursor and perhaps his master. These early paintings are unusual for the time in that they were painted on the spot, rather than the usual custom of working in the studio from drawings. however, he later abandoned this method and returned to studio work, sometimes using a camera obscura for realism.
The most important person in Canaletto’s career and his patron was Joseph Smith (c.1674-1770), an Englishman, who lived in Venice, and worked as an agent on behalf of British collectors of manuscripts, books and works of art; he also served as British Consul to the Venice Republic (1744-1760; 1766). He had a notable collection of his own. This collection in 1762-3 was sold to King George III, by that time it included the largest single group of works by Canaletto ever assembled. 
From 1726 he sold more and more of his pictures in England and painted several scenes there, although his reputation suffered from inferior works fraudulently signed as his own. Eventually the truth of the matter was revealed and his reputation as a great artist confirmed.
In 1756, he returned to work in Venice until his death. The Grand Canal Looking Down to the Rialto Bridge, The Campo di Rialto, The Vigilia di S. Pietro and The Vigilia di S. Marta, Piazza San Marco: Looking East from the North-West Corner, and Piazza San Marco: Looking East from the South-West Corner are from this years.
- Canaletto's early pictures for local patrons are his most accomplished: these carefully designed, individual, and atmospheric studies include 'The Stonemason's Yard'. 
- Stone Mason's Yard (1730)
- El Gran Canal y la Iglesia de la Salud (1730)
- Westminster Bridge (1746-1747)
- London: Northumberland House (1752)
- Campo di Rialto (1758–63)