Porta Portello, Padua


Porta Portello en Padua

Canal (Canaletto), Giovanni Antonio

Venecia, 1697 - 1768

Porta Portello, Padua, c. 1760

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza en préstamo en el Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Oil on canvas

63,3 x 110 cm


Artwork history

  • Lord Trend.

  • Sotheby’s, lot 87, London, December 15th, 1954. 3,600 pounds.

  • Speelman.

  • Frank Partridge, London.

  • Walter Dunkels, Sussex.

  • Mrs. Vera Dunkels.

  • Sotheby´s, lot 16, London, July 6th, 1966. 6,500 pounds.

  • C. Duits.

  • Mr.  and Mrs. Eugene Ferkauf, New York.

  • Christie´s, lot 98, London, July 7th, 1972. (36,000 guineas).

  • Private collection.

  • Christie´s, lot 249, London, April 19th, 1996.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.


De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 98, p. 4.


Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, nº 1, p. 58.

1997 - 1998

El Viatge a Itàlia. Vedute Italianes del Segle XVIII de la Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza. Pedralbes Monastery, pp. 48-55.

1997 - 1998

The Spirit of the Place. Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, New York, The Frick Collection; Hartford (CT), Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, nº 1, pp. 21-22 (only in New York).

1998 - 1999

Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Takaoka, Takaoka Art Museum; Nagoya, Matsuzaka Art Museum; Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art, nº 4, p. 26.


Aspectos de la tradición paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal, nº 8, pp. 48-50.


De Van Goyen a Constable. Aspectos da tradición do pintoresco na Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Corunna, Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña, nº 10, pp. 60-62.


Canaletto. Una Venecia imaginaria, Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona; Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 68, pp. 202-203. (only Madrid).


Landschaften von Brueghel bis Kandinsky. Die Ausstellung zu Ehren des Sammlers Hans Heinrich Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, nº 30, p. 96.


Canaletto e Bellotto. L'arte della veduta, Turín, Palazzo Bricherasio, nº 100, p. 244, illus. p. 245.

2011 - 2012

Arquitecturas pintadas del Renacimiento al siglo XVIII, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Sala de las Alhajas, nº 99, pp. 317, illus. p. 330.

  • -Constable, William George: Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962, vol. 2, nº 375, p. 357.

  • -Puppi, Lionello: L’opera completa del Canaletto. Berto, Giuseppe. Milan, Rizzoli, 1968. Classici dell’arte; vol. 18, nº 209B, p. 108.

  • -Shapley, F. R.: Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Italian Schools XVI-XVIII Century. New York, 1973, nº K2175, p. 162.

  • -Constable, William George: Canaletto. Giovanni Antonio Canal. 1697-1768. Links, Joseph G. 2ª ed. Oxford, 1976 [augmented ed. Oxford, 1989], vol. 2, nº 375, p. 383.

  • -Shapley, F. R.: Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. Washington (DC), National Gallery of Art, 1979, nº 1605, p. 104.

  • -Links, Joseph G.: Canaletto. The Complete Paintings. London, 1981, nº 304.

  • -Christie, Manson & Woods: Important and fine old master pictures. [Auction cat.]. London, April 19th, 1996, p. 126, illus.

  • -Grazia, Diane de and Garberson, Eric: Italian paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Washington (DC), National Gallery of Art – New York, Oxford University Press, 1996. The collections of the National Gallery of Art: systematic catalogue, p. 34 [ Sheet by Bowron].

  • -De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Addenda. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. cat. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza]. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1996, nº 98, pp. 4-6. [Sheet by Roberto Contini].

  • -Links, Joseph G.: A Supplement to W. G. Constable’s Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768. London, Pallas Athene Arts, 1998, pp. 36-37.

  • -Canaletto. Una Venècia imaginària. [Exhib. cat.]. Succi, D. y Delneri, A. (lit. eds.). Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Institut d’edicions, 2001, pp. 202-203, illus. [Sheet by Delneri].

  • -Contini, Roberto: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Italian Painting. London, 2002, nº 57, pp. 270-275, illus.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 190, illus. p. 191 [ Sheet by Roberto Contini].

  • -Solana, Guillermo: Paisajes en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. London, Scala, 2006, p. 37, illus. (detail pp. 30-31 and 36).

  • -Canaletto e Bellotto. L’arte della veduta. Kowalczyk, Bozena Anna (ed.). [Exhib. cat. Turín, Palazzo Bricherasio]. Milan, Silvana Editoriale Spa, 2008, p. 244, illus. p. 245 [Sheet by Bozena Anna Kowalczyk].

  • -Borobia, Mar and Alarcó, Paloma (eds.): Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Obras escogidas. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2011, p. 134, illus. p. 135.

  • -Rodríguez, Delfín and Borobia, Mar: Arquitecturas pintadas. Del Renacimiento al siglo XVIII. [Exhib. cat.]. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Fundación Caja Madrid, 2011-2012, nº 99, p. 317, illus. p. 330 [Sheet by Mar Borobia].

Expert report

The painting illustrates the Porta Portella, the main entrance into the city of Padua from the east for those arriving from Venice. Canaletto has set it slightly off centre to the left and seen from the side. Originally known as the Porta Ognissanti (All Saints’ Entrance), it was built to a design by the architect Guglielmo de’Grigi, nicknamed Bergamasco. Located on the crossroads of the present-day Via Portello (known as the Via Venezia on the other side of the Piovego Canal, a tributary of the Bacchiglione river) and the Via Gradenigo, which changes its name to Loredan along the stretch that enters the city and runs towards the Eremitani. The gateway, which is now in a reasonable state of preservation, although the lantern has lost its dome, is now known as the Porta Venezia.

Of the various buildings depicted here, unfortunately the most important ones have not been identified -assuming they are not inventions of the artist- such as the building with the colonnade on the other side of the canal, set slightly back due to the bridge, while in the background the Church of the Carmini can be seen. But it should be said that Canaletto was not accurate in his reproduction of this part of Padua on canvas, since, among others things, the corner of wall in the foreground is imaginary and the Portello Bridge had three instead of two pilasters (although, as Fern Rusk Shapley has observed, the third could be “concealed from our view by the left bank of the canal”). In addition, the artist, in his over-zealous passion for ruins, has shown the wall in the foreground in a rather more decayed condition than really was the case. Canaletto’s liberty in topographical matters has been well researched by André Corboz. For a useful comparison between the present condition of the gate and Canaletto’s freely manipulated version, the engraving of 1831 by Pietro Chevalier offers an intermediate, analytical view. A second version of this view of Padua which is very similar and of almost identical dimensions has been a part of the Samuel H. Kress Collection since 1964. The Kress painting is, in fact, very similar with regard to the viewpoint used and the elements included, and both can be regarded as more or less the same.

Both versions of the Porta Portello have been dated more or less unanimously to the early 1740s. This dating is justified by a trip to Padua made by Canaletto with his nephew Bellotto in 1740 or 1741. Both paintings share the dark tonality, luminous atmosphere and an almost poetic mood with a third painting of the Dolo sur Brenta(Washington, Private Collection), qualities which induced Pallucchini to see in it “a serenity already worthy of a Corot.” The journey to Padua is documented by preparatory drawings which still exist, even for the view of the Porta Portello (Vienna, Albertina; Windsor, Royal Collections, Windsor Castle; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum). This makes it more difficult to date the canvases, which are clearly based on drawings and “constructed” in the studio. Links had already dated the paintings twenty years later to around 1760 while recently a new element has emerged in connection with the above mentionedView of Dolo: a label on the back of the canvas with an inscription in 18th-century handwriting reading “Antonio Canaleto [sic.] / 1754″suggests that there was a pre-existing signature on the back of the canvas. A similar dating would also explain the palette of grey and green tones and the use of older graphic prototypes, both common aspects of late works of Canaletto’s English period.

It would appear to be the case that the artist was not particularly interested in the Porta Portello, which he includes in the composition without making it the presiding element. Rather, “the relatively tranquil ambient of the outskirts of a mainland town, and the crumbling masonry of the wall in the foreground captured his attention as much as anything”, albeit with numerous elements added by the artist himself from his own repertoire.

Roberto Contini