Even in the 18th century, Venice had its tourists; it was one of the must go places for the wealthy on their grand continental tour. For Canaletto (“little canal”), born in 1697 as Giovanni Antonio Canal, they were the ideal customers for his paintings of the city. His first works were sold to local patrons, who were often interested in the lesser known side of Venice and these are still regarded as his best work. His later ‘souvenir’ paintings depict all the well-known places. Many of his customers were English, and later in life, he visited London where he painted (and sold) well-known views on London.
Canaletto considered people equally important as the buildings, and most of his paintings are full them, in the boats on the water, in the streets and even in the windows of houses. The Entrance to the Grand Canal is one of his earlier paintings, and it is easy to see why people loved them.