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Giovanni Antonio Canal, also known as "Canaletto," was an Italian painter and printmaker from Venice. Considered to be a key member of the Venetian school of the eighteenth century, Canaletto was a major figure during his lifetime. 

Canaletto was born on October 28, 1697, in Venice. His parents, Bernardo Canal and Artemisia Barbieri, were artists and art collectors. His father, Bernardo, was a theatrical scenery painter, and was a mentor for young Canaletto.

After a visit to Rome, Canaletto decided to move to London, where he would be closer to the market. He stayed in the city for four years, producing a great deal of work. While he still remained in Venice, he also spent a significant amount of time in England. This time was the most fruitful for him, as he painted landscapes in London and his patrons' castles. He even painted himself in a portrait, which he considered to be his most important creation. Although the latter was a great compliment to his uncle, his art suffered during this time.

Canaletto exhibited his paintings widely. Many English collectors, such as the British Consul Joseph Smith, were drawn to his paintings. The British consul's influence led to him marketing Canaletto's works to English patrons during the Grand Tour. While he was in Venice, Smith acted as a middleman for Canaletto, buying and selling many of his paintings. In 1762, Smith sold a large part of his collection to the young George III, which remains in the Royal Collection today.

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