Skip to Main Content
Dozens of men with several women and a few children gather in pairs or small groups across a sun-drenched plaza in front of a domed church next to a long, pale pink building in this horizontal painting. The people’s faces and hands we can see have pale, peachy skin. The men wear hats and shin-length capes or jackets over stockings in tones of charcoal gray, olive green, butterscotch yellow, black, and brown. The women wear black capes covering their heads and long, full skirts. The ash-brown plaza has two zones where geometric patterns are picked out in a lighter, oatmeal brown. Three coral-red flagpoles are spaced along the center of the plaza parallel to the two buildings. Each flagpole rests on an olive-green base about a third of the height of the pole. Tables under open umbrellas clustered around the outer two flagpoles display piles of cloth, and a few people gather around the wares. The domed building extends into the scene from the left edge of the painting, and reaches about a third of the way across as it angles away from us. It has a central portal with nested arches, flanked to each side by a pair of slightly smaller, arched portals. Scenes against gold backgrounds appear in the archway of each of the five doors. There is a second level of arches above. The smaller arches to either side are decorated with more scenes of people against gold backgrounds. Four gold horses stand atop the central, lower arch, each with one front and one back hoof raised. The arch behind them is dim, the back side of a stained-glass window. The stone of the arches and front of the building are light brown. The upper arches are lined with pale, slate-gray spires and curling tracery. The three-story pink building sits close by to our right, extending into the distance on the same angle as the church, and as tall as its neighbor. The lowest level is a series of open, pointed arches. The second level is also a row of arches, but more closely spaced. People walk and stand under both covered walkways. The top half of the building has a carnation-pink façade with seven windows evenly spaced across its width. The central window is surrounded by carved stone ornament. Along the right edge of the painting and closer to us than the large buildings is the corner of a two-story building. The lower level is in shadow under a sloping awning, creating a merchant’s stall, and the second level has a rounded, arched window. One person stands at the front corner of the roof and looks down into the square. In the narrow gap between the row of buildings to our left and the smaller structure to our right is a winged lion atop a tall column. Beyond that is sparkling blue water with several masted ships and long, narrow gondolas. The sky above has thin white clouds against a pale blue sky. The artist signed the lower left, “A.C.F.”

Canaletto, The Square of Saint Mark's, Venice, 1742/1744, oil on canvas, Gift of Mrs. Barbara Hutton, 1945.15.3

Canaletto’s The Square of Saint Mark’s, Venice

Drawing workshop

Sketchbook Club

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2023
  • 5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Fun for Kids
  • Virtual
  • Registration Required

Sketchbook Club is recommended for families with children of all ages. Registration is required. 

Join us as we sketch inspired by Canaletto’s The Square of Saint Mark’s, Venice.

This is one club where you don’t need a membership to join! National Gallery of Art teaching artists lead free, 30-minute sketches inspired by works of art from the National Gallery’s collection. Add new drawings to your sketchbook or just doodle along with us as we explore a different prompt each session.


All you need are a pencil and paper. We encourage you to bring colored pencils, crayons, markers, or paints as well, but these are optional.


[email protected]