Giovanni Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768) is one of the most popular of all old master painters. His views of Venice and London are much celebrated and admired. Canaletto began his career as a scene-painter with his father and his early work, such as the Architectural Capriccio of 1723, reflects this training. Unlike most of his fellow artists, Canaletto was interested in depicting the world around him, but he was more than a mere recorder of the amazing scenery of Venice or of Georgian England. He had the power, in the words of one of his contemporaries, to paint so that "the eye is deceived and truly believes it is the real thing it sees", and his insight and technical skills were so dazzling that it was thought he must rely on some sort of optical apparatus. His first views of Venice were painted around 1725 for Stefano Conti of Lucca. Soon after he came into contact with Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice, who was to become his most important patron. Through Smith's influence, he came to England between about 1746 and 1756 during which time he painted many London scenes including views of Westminster Bridge, Whitehall, the Old Horse Guards, St James's Park and Somerset House as well as views of Warwick Castle and Eton College.