Friday, May 23, 2014


View of New Market Square, Dresden, Bernardo Bellotto, 1750
A veduta (Italian for "view) is a classic panorama of a famous motif. Such view paintings acted as important records in an age before photography. People returning from the Grand Tour might want to buy a veduta of the Roman Forum or Venice.

Vedute paintings also served as tokens of civic pride to be displayed by the wealthy class, who also bought them in the form of engravings. Here's a painting from 1747 of "The River Thames from Richmond House" by Canaletto. Another example is the View of Delft by Vermeer.

A subcategory of this genre was called the veduta esatta – a view that's meant to be exact or accurate.

Another subcategory is the veduta ideata or capriccio, an idealized view with liberties taken from the actual scene. In this capriccio of Rome by Giovanni Paolo Panini from 1735, famous monuments have been shuffled around to fit the main attractions of Rome onto a single canvas.


Matthew Kerr said...

What on earth are those funny little "house" boat things on the river? Floating fish processing? Oddly shaped racing boats? Tour boats? Fascinating whatever they are!

DamianJ said...

Matthew, the 'house' boats in the Canaletto are pageant barges, they appear in several of his other works from during his stay in London ( circa 1750) , notably in the painting "The River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day". They were the inspiration for the barge that was built to celebrate the 60 year reign of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. An internet image search for 'Gloriana barge' will bring up plenty :)

On an adjacent note, the view in the Canaletto ( from James's post) is painted from a location that is now the Ministry of Defense, a short walk from the Houses of Parliament, though it's interesting ( as a Londoner) to see the River come right up to the buildings. From the late 1860's Joseph Bazalgette embanked the river ( making it narrower) when he constructed the tunnel for the Underground line and sewage system that followed the line of the Thames, thus putting a road between all the buildings and the waters edge.

Dan said...


Very interesting, thanks. For me, these bring to mind your plein air sketches of cityscapes, which I tend to think provide a much stronger sense of what it was really like to be there than a photograph would. It seems that with photographs so commonplace, the documentation value of such paintings may be under-appreciated in our time. The feeling of a place changes in very subtle ways over time. I have photographs of my home town from years ago, but I sure wish there were good paintings of the places I remember. The photographs don't do a very good job of capturing the true sensations of those places.


Robert J. Simone said...

After reading Matthew's comment I took a closer look at "the pageant barges" (thank you DamianJ) and noticed the rowing crews in the aft portion of each craft....that's a very cool painting!