These paintings are based on the third and eighteenth of a series of signed views of Rome drawn by the young Canaletto in 1718, when he was working there with his father Bernard, now in the British Museum, London. Although W.G. Constable was uncertain as to Canaletto's authorship of this series (Canaletto, Oxford, 1962, II, no. 713), they are now generally accepted as by him; and Hugo Chapman's recognition that one is dated 1718 has established their context.
Bernardo Canal, described as 'pitor' in 1696 and referred to as a 'pittore da teatro' by Zanetti, was an accomplished stage painter and, as Charles Beddington and others have shown, Canaletto's early work develops from that of his father, and eclipses it very rapidly in the early 1720s. Canaletto's drawings were based on a mixture of observation and the study of earlier views, and it is not surprising that at a time when he was working on stage sets detailed topography was not an overriding concern. Many of these, including the two in question, were engraved by Brustolon, and both Canaletto and his nephew Bellotto subsequently used these as the basis of pictures. The attribution of these canvasses to Bernardo, which was advanced independently by Charles Beddington, is based on their similarity in tonal range to key early works by Canaletto, which already however show that the latter was an artist of a different level of sensitivity, and to their stylistic compatibility with the group of views of 1734 by Bernardo first studied by Ridolfo Pallucchini and subsequently considered by Professore Succi (exhibition catalogue, Luca Carlevarijs e la veduta veneziana del Settecento, Padua, 1994, no. 76), and further pictures attributed to the artist by the latter (nos. 77-8). The father had access to the sons establishment and served as Prior of the Collegio dei Pittori in 1739.