Caspar van Wittel

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Caspar van Wittel
Caspar van Wittel - Castel Sant'Angelo from the South - WGA25823.jpg
Veduta of Castel Sant'Angelo from the South (1690s)
Born Caspar Adriaensz. van Wittel
1653
Amersfoort
Died 1736
Rome
Nationality Dutch
Known for Landscape art

Caspar van Wittel or Gaspar van Wittel (born as 'Jasper Adriaensz. van Wietel', name variations: 'Gaspare Vanvitelli', 'Gasparo degli Occhiali', 'Gasparo dagli Occhiali', 'Gaspare van Vitelli') (1652 or 1653, Amersfoort – September 13, 1736, Rome) was a Dutch painter who made a career in Rome where he played a pivotal role in the development of the genre of topographical painting known as veduta.[1]

Biography[edit]

Van Wittel's father was a cart maker and the family van Wittel was Roman Catholic.[2] He studied painting in Amersfoort with the relatively obscure Thomas Jansz van Veenendaal for 4 or 5 years and then with the better known Matthias Withoos for 7 years.[3] His first extant works were made in Hoorn in 1672 to where he had fled after the French invasion and occupation of Amersfoort in the Rampjaar.[2] He returned to Amersfoort where he was active until 1674, the year in which he left for Italy together with his friend Jacob van Staverden, another pupil of Withoos.[4]

Like his former teacher Withoos, he joined the Bentvueghels, an association of mainly Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome. His nickname in the Bentveughels was "Piktoors" (Pitch-torch) or "Toorts van Amersfoort" (Torch of Amersfoort).[5] He was also nicknamed ‘Gasparo dagli Occhiali’ (Gaspare with the spectacles).[6] He worked in Rome together with the Flemish painter Abraham Genoels and may even have been his pupil.

He married in Rome in 1697 and stayed most of his life in that city. His son Luigi was born in 1700. Luigi became a famous architect and used the italianized family name of Vanvitelli. Another son was born in 1702.

Between 1694 and 1710, van Wittel toured Italy and painted in Florence, Bologna, Ferrara, Venice, Milan, Piacenza and Naples. He became member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1711. He made his last dated work in 1730.[1]

Work[edit]

Caspar van Wittel and Cornelis Meyer, The navigable Tiber

Van Wittel is one of the principal painters of topographical views known as vedute. He is credited with turning topography into a painterly specialism in Italian art.[7] He may have been influenced by the drawings of the Flemish draughtsman Lieven Cruyl who had produced a series of cityscapes of Rome in the 1660s.[8][9]

When van Wittel first arrived in Rome he drew 50 drawings illustrating the Dutch hydraulic engineer Cornelis Meyer's designs for restoring navigability to the River Tiber between Rome and Perugia.[10] His first vedute also originated from his collaboration with Meyer, who used drawings by van Wittel to illustrate one of his tracts with a series of engraved Roman views. Van Wittel used some of these drawings for tempera and oil vedute dating from the early 1680s. His style of vedute was formed about 10 years later.[6]

His work developed from that of the Dutch Italianate painters, whose work incorporated Roman ruins and other Roman sights. Their paintings always placed architecture within the surrounding landscape. Van Wittel's approach was derived from this and as result his views show buildings from a distance. He showed large architectural complexes in an overall view. His work should therefore be seen as a mixture of landscape and urban architecture painting rather than simple vedute. It is possible that he relied on the aid of a camera obscura in drawing his vedute.[7]

His compositional and perspectival principles remained the same from the 1690s, only the subject matter changed.[6] His work was very popular with travellers on their Grand Tour of Italy. Thomas Coke, the future 1st Earl of Leicester and builder of Holkham Hall, Norfolk, acquired at least seven vedute by van Wittel during his Grand Tour in the years 1715 and 1716.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Caspar van Wittel's biographical details on website dedicated to Caspar van Wittel (Dutch)
  2. ^ a b Caspar van Wittel's jeugdjaren on website dedicated to Caspar van Wittel (Dutch)
  3. ^ Caspar van Wittel at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  4. ^ Jacob van Staverden at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  5. ^ Gasper van Wittel gebentnaamt de Toorts van Amersfoort in Arnold Houbraken's Schouburg (Dutch)
  6. ^ a b c Ludovica Trezzani. "Wittel, Gaspar van." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 28 Mar. 2014
  7. ^ a b Lyckle de Vries. "Townscape." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 2 Apr. 2014
  8. ^ Robert C. Smith, The Ruins of Rome
  9. ^ Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Sir John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy. Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-century European Drawings: Central Europe, the Netherlands, France, England, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999, p. 280
  10. ^ Facsimile of the L'Arte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere
  11. ^ John Wilton-Ely. "Veduta." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Sources[edit]

  • Review of Gaspar Van Wittel, e l'origene della veduta settecentesca (Rome) Ugo Bozzi publishers, by William Barcham in The Art Bulletin (1969) pp. 189–193. [1]