Last blog articles
Categories : Fine ART
What do Warsaw and Venice have in common?
Painter and engraver Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as "Canaletto", was the founder of the school of eighteenth century Venetian painters. He trained with his father Bernardo, who specialized in painting scenery for the theatre. Around 1719 he moved to Rome, where he began to devote himself to landscape painting, inspired by the examples of artists like the Dutch Gaspar van Wittel and Friulian Luca Carlevarijs.
Among his clients were the Liechtenstein royals and Joseph Smith, a banker, merchant and at that time British consul in Venice, who introduced him to the rich and sophisticated English collectors. Meanwhile, at home Canaletto had elevated landscape painting to a movement with a refined taste representative of the European Enlightenment, like the painting of historical events and figures that, until then, had dominated the painting of the era. His paintings resulted from the careful selection of specific atmosphere and lighting conditions for each particular time of day, observed and realised with scientific objectivity.
From 1746 to 1756 Canaletto lived in London, and during this period he painted views of the Thames and the English countryside for the local aristocracy. After a decade in England he made a final return to Venice that corresponded with his declining fortunes as an artist.
But there is another "Canaletto": Antonio Canal’s nephew, Bernardo Bellotto (Venice 1721 - Warsaw 1780), who adopted the same pseudonym as his uncle) on the latter’s own advice. A landscape painter too, he further developed the style and techniques that made his uncle so famous. But above all he made a vital contribution to the reconstruction of one of Europe’s capital cities.
Destroyed by World War II, Warsaw needed to be rebuilt and restored. And it was precisely due to the Venetian painter Bernardo Bellotto that the Polish capital is one that we can visit. The views of Warsaw painted by Bellotto formed the model for the reconstruction of the city.
The King of Poland at the time that Bellotto was painting, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, promoted him to court painter to the king, and Canaletto's paintings were commissioned to decorate the halls of Castle Ujazdow. Canaletto used a camera obscura, with which an image was reflected and then painted on a glass which was in turn fastened to transparent paper. The image was then transferred onto canvas. Having been taken from several points of view and enriched with details, it is difficult to say whether it was an "exact" rendering of the city. He created a ‘more real’ reality, thanks to which the Poles found their Warsaw again.