I’ve been doing some research on Joseph Smith (c. 1674-1770): an Englishman who moved to Venice around 1700, where he established himself as a collector of rare books and paintings. In 1744 he was made British Consul in Venice and was thereafter known by all as Consul Smith. He lived in a small palazzo, then called Palazzo Balbi, on Calle del Dragon, facing the Grand Canal near to the Rialto Bridge.
A high point of this year so far has been staying for a few nights in this palazzo, which (like much of Venice these days) is an air bnb. Now renamed Palazzo Mangilli Valmarana, it’s certainly a beautiful spot; we stayed in a flat on the ground floor but Smith probably inhabited the upper rooms, particularly the piano nobile, where it was customary to have a salon for accepting visitors.
Married to the English soprano, Catherine Tofts, Smith was a magnet for British Grand Tourists; he also became the principal British agent for artists such as Canaletto and Rosalba Carriera, whose works were on show at the palazzo and could be purchased by visitors.
Canaletto painted at least one view of the Rialto Bridge, subsequently sold to George III (still in the Royal Collection today), which is the very same view I saw out of the window every morning.