Bernardo Bellotto

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"Bellotto's urban scenes have the same carefully drawn realism as his uncle's Venetian views but are marked by heavy shadows and are darker and colder in tone and colour."
View of Warsaw from the Praga bank, painted 1770.
Colonel Piotr Königsfels teaching Prince Józef Poniatowski how to ride, 1773

Bernardo Bellotto (c. 1721/2[1][2] – 17 October 1780) was an Italian urban landscape painter or vedutista, and printmaker in etching famous for his vedute of European cities (Dresden, Vienna, Turin and Warsaw). He was the pupil and nephew of Canaletto and sometimes used the latter's illustrious name, signing himself as Bernardo Canaletto. In Germany and Poland, Bellotto called himself by his uncle's name, Canaletto.

Bellotto's style was characterized by elaborate representation of architectural and natural vistas, and by the specific quality of each place's lighting. It is plausible that Bellotto, and other Venetian masters of vedute, may have used the camera obscura in order to achieve superior precision of urban views.


Bellotto was born in Venice, the son of Lorenzo Antonio Bellotto and Fiorenza Canal, sister of the famous Canaletto, and studied in his uncle's workshop.

In 1742 he moved to Rome, where he produced vedute of that city. In 1744 and 1745 he traveled northern Italy, again depicting vedute of each city. Among others, he worked for Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy.

From 1747 to 1758 he moved to Dresden, following an invitation from King August III of Poland. He created paintings of the cities Dresden and Pirna and their surroundings. Today these paintings preserve a memory of Dresden's former beauty, which was destroyed by bombing during World War II.

His international reputation grew, and in 1758 he accepted an invitation from Empress Maria Theresa to come to Vienna, where he painted views of the city's monuments. Thereafter he worked in Munich and then again in Dresden.

When King August III of Poland, also an Elector of Saxony, who usually lived in Dresden, died in 1763, Bellotto's work became less important in Dresden. As a consequence, he left Dresden to seek employment in St Petersburg at the court of Catherine II of Russia. On his way to St. Petersburg, however, Bellotto accepted an invitation in 1764 from Poland's newly elected King Stanisław August Poniatowski to become his court painter in Warsaw.

Here he remained some 16 years, for the rest of his life, as court painter to the King, for whom he painted numerous views of the Polish capital and its environs for the Royal Castle in Warsaw, complement of the great historical paintings commissioned by Poniatowski from Marcello Bacciarelli. His paintings of Warsaw, later relocated to Moscow and Leningrad, were restored to the Polish Communist Government and were used in rebuilding the city after its near-complete destruction by German troops during World War II.

There are paintings by Bellotto also at the Czartoryski Museum, in Krakow, Poland (a museum founded by Izabela Czartoryska, (1743–1835), with paintings and works of art from her estate, Pulawy), and in Wilanów Palace, in the outskirts of Warsaw, founded around 1805 by Stanislaw Kostka Potocki, where a portrait of the above mentioned Izabela Czartoryska can be seen.

Bellotto died in Warsaw in 1780.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bernardo Bellotto 1722 - 1780". Museo Correr exposition information. Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Bernardo Bellotto". National Gallery collection catalogue. National Gallery of Britain. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 


  • Beddington, Charles. Bernardo Bellotto and His Circle in Italy. Part I: Not Canaletto but Bellotto. Burlington Magazine 146, no. 1216 (Cct. 2004): 665–674.
  • "Belotto [sic] Bernardo, zwany [known as] Canaletto", Encyklopedia Polski, p. 42.
  • STEPHANE LOIRE, HANNA MALACHOWICZ, KRZYSTOF POMIAN, ANDRZEJ ROTTERMUND. "Bernardo Bellotto, Un pittore veneziano a Varsavia" . Book edited by Andrzej Rottermund, Director of the Royal Castle at Warszawa and Henry Loirette, Director of the Louvre Museum (Paris), from the Louvre Museum Exhibition of Bernardo Bellotto at the Warszawa Royal Castle from 7 October 2004 to 10 January 2005. 5 Continents Editions srl, Milano, (2004). ISBN 5 Continents Editions: 88-7439-139-0 . 134 pages with over 65 big size color photographs within.

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