By Livia Lupi
Painter Bernardo Bellotto died on 17 November 1780 in Warsaw. He was born in Venice and was the nephew of painter Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto and widely renowned for his cityscapes of Venice, or vedute. After training in his uncle’s workshop, Bernardo moved to Rome and then to Lombardy and Piedmont, where he worked for Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy. Often using his uncle’s surname and signing himself as Bernardo Canaletto, Bellotto garnered increasing attention, and in 1747 he moved to Dresden at the invitation of King Augustus III of Poland. Here he realised several paintings representing the cities of Dresden and Pirna and their surroundings, creating a record of what would be forever lost during the bombings of the Second World War.
After Dresden, Bernardo also worked in Vienna, Bavaria and Warsaw, always under the prestigious patronage of kings, empresses and other notable members of royal families. Although Bernardo’s style closely resembles his uncle’s, his chiaroscuro is more marked and his colour tones are colder, perhaps due to light variations in northern Europe in comparison to Italy.
Further Reading: Edgar Peters Bowron, Bernardo Bellotto and the Capitals of Europe (Yale University Press, 2001); Andreas Schumacher, Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe (Hirmer Publishers, 2015); Bozena Anna Kowalczyk and Monica da Corta Fumei, ed., Bernardo Bellotto: 1722-1780 (Electa, 2001).
Dresden from the Right Bank of the Elbe above the Augustus Bridge, 1747, oil on canvas. Dresden, Gemäldegalerie.
New Market Square in Dresden, 1750, oil on canvas. Dresden, Gemäldegalerie.
Lobkowitzplatz in Vienna, 1759-60, oil on canvas. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
View of Warsaw from the Royal Palace, 1773, oil on canvas. Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe.
Architectural Capriccio with Self-Portrait, c. 1765, oil on canvas. Private collection.