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The view from the Upper Belvedere Palace across a Vienna that had flourished and expanded following the second Turkish siege in 1683 is probably the mostwell-known of the views commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa. These depict palaces (Schönbrunn and Schlosshof ) as well as urban scenes.Bellotto’s stay in Vienna is framed by his departure from Dresden in December 1758 and his arrival in Munich in January 1761. No documents concerning the empress’s commission have been preserved. It is also impossible to reconstruct with certainty the programme that determined the choice of subjects or the place the paintings were originally intended to decorate, but perhaps it was Pressburg (now the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava). Today all thirteen paintings in the series are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. There is no proof that Bellotto used a camera obscura but it may be assumed that he did so. The device was universally recognised as an aid to drawing in the Netherlandish and German painting of the 16th century. From there it travelled to Italy, where Bellotto’s uncle and teacher, Antonio Canal, used it in making his numerous views of Venice. Both painters, however, altered the images they made with this technical assistance, changing them to create compositions that were more artistically satisfying and took the perception of the human eye into account. In the present view, the placement of the vertical elements – the Church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche) on the left, the tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the middle, and the dome of the Salesian Church on the right – differs from the actual situation in that here they are an equal distance apart and closer together. Still surrounded by defensive fortifications, the city centre appears unified and relatively distant, extending towards the foothills of the Vienna Woods. The sharply delineated shadows are given particular importance in the composition; in the strictly structured gardens that extend from the ground floor of the palace, they provide rhythm and strengthen the impression of depth in the composition. Enlivening the scene is the addition of numerous small accessory figures (staffage); they make clear the sharply foreshortened (but in reality considerable) length of the pathway between theUpper and Lower Belvedere Palaces. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

Details

  • Title: Vienna Viewed from the Belvedere Palace
  • Creator: Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto
  • Date Created: 1759/1760
  • Style: Baroque
  • Provenance: painted for the Imperial Court
  • Physical Dimensions: w2130 x h1350 cm (without frame)
  • Inventory Number: GG 1669
  • Artist Biography: Bernardo Bellotto's work sometimes has been mistaken for that of his famous uncle Canaletto; the native Venetian spent most of his life outside Italy and signed his works abroad de Canaletto. Bellotto employed cooler colors than Canaletto, however, and showed a stronger feeling for landscape and sky in his vedute, or views. Inducted into the Venetian painters' guild at the early age of seventeen, Bellotto had an influential backer in his uncle Canaletto, who probably needed help to satisfy the great demand for his cityscapes. Traveling to Rome and northern Italy in the 1740s, Bellotto painted his first vedute ideale, or imaginary views. Always maintaining his appreciation of architectural form and the varying tones of differing skies, Bellotto's compositions evolved from sparsely populated, evocative stillness to foregrounds of milling crowds and hustle-bustle. In 1747 he moved to Dresden, becoming the Saxon court's highest paid artist. With the Prussian occupation of Dresden in 1756, Bellotto worked in Vienna and Munich. In 1768 Bellotto became court painter in Warsaw. His topographically accurate vedute, valuable as both art and history, were used to reconstruct Warsaw after the Second World War. ©J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas

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