Canaletto spent time in England between 1746 and 1755, mostly in London (the plaque marks where he resided in the Soho district), but at some time after 1750 he travelled out to Walton-on-Thames, Surrey to produce a painting of the new bridge across the River Thames there.
It was designed by William Etheridge to consist of "timbers tangent to a circle of 100 feet diameter" and was built so that a single timber could be extracted and repaired without disturbing the rest of the bridge.
Old Walton Bridge was completed in August 1750 and acquired some fame, meriting an article in the Gentleman's Magazine, a report in Daniel Defoe's Tour in 1753, and of course the painting by Canaletto.
In the centre of the painting, on the near bank, there are two people standing together; on the left is Thomas Hollis who commissioned the painting from Canaletto.
On the right is Thomas Brand, Hollis’ friend and heir. Further to the right, dressed in colourful livery, is Hollis' servant, Francesco Giovannini, and at the feet of Hollis is his dog, Malta.
Sitting a little distance from the group on the left, with a cow looking over his shoulder, is an artist thought to be Canaletto himself.
With storm clouds forming above the bridge, Canaletto contrasts the forces of nature with the work of engineering below; the painting is the only of his English works in which he attempts to capture the weather.
Dicker commissioned a different view of the bridge from Canaletto in 1755 which shows the full extent of the bridge works for which he had paid. (See below).