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Painter Canaletto and Warsaw. What connects them?

The artist and the city. This artist painted urban views, urban landscapes (this genre is called “Veduta”). Someone was engaged in portraits, someone in nature, someone in barracks, and Bernardo Belotto was devoted to urban views.

As a rule, these were streets, squares, buildings that existed in his time. But how can an artist create without imagination? Does not work! And what comes out from under his brush? It can be a fantastic view of the city, that is, one in which everything is fiction. It can be a self-portrait against the background of the city landscape, where the landscape existed only in the imagination of the artist, and the self-portrait is similar to the original only in the outlines of the figure and face. We are facing a painting by Bernardo Belotto, nicknamed “Canaletto”, which is called “Architectural Fantasy with a Self-Portrait in the Costume of the Ambassador of Venice.”

A luxurious wig, a rich raspberry cloak, a sparkling gold cloak on the left shoulder – apparently, this was what the ambassador of Venice looked like in those years. And all this – against the backdrop of a complex architectural structure: a bridge at a height of about five meters, the longest colonnade with a gallery …

The gesture of the ambassador (that is, the artist himself) is like an invitation to look at his creation. And who accompanies the artist? Art historians write that his faithful servant Cheko is behind him, next to him is an elderly abbot with a folder in which (one can assume) are the sketches. This artist has something to boast about: he became popular very early. His mother was called Fiorenza Domenico Canale, his father was Lorenzo Belotto. Name given to future artist at baptism: Bernardo Francesco Paolo Ernesto. And the prefix “Canaletto”, apparently, was a tribute to his mother. Fiorenza was the eldest of three sisters of the Venetian artist Antonio Canaletto, who painted colorful views of Venice and the regatta. Bernardo was born in 1722, at the age of 13 he began to paint in his uncle’s studio and learned his painting techniques so much that the definition of authorship is still problematic for art critics: who wrote – uncle or nephew? At the age of 16, Bernardo became a member of the Guild of Artists in Venice. He is not only engaged in painting, he is also an engraver and printer. In 1745 (the artist was 23 years old!) He performed two types of Turin for Carl Emmanuel III, King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy. These were the first works commissioned, they were signed indicating “Canaletto II”, as if emphasizing the connection with the famous uncle.

In 1747, Belotto left Venice and entered the service of Augustus II, who was both the ruler of Saxony and the king of Poland. In 1748 he received the title of “artist of the yard.” He writes views of Dresden and the suburbs of Pirna (cities in Saxony): 14 large panoramas of Dresden and 11 Pirna – for six years from 1747. These paintings could not be attributed to his uncle.

1758-1761, Vienna. Thirteen large canvases with views of Vienna’s landmarks were painted for Empress Maria Theresa: her palaces and buildings constructed according to her plans. In 1761, prosperity ended, the painter had to get bread by teaching at the Royal Academy of Arts in Dresden, engraving. He makes many small copies of his paintings (with the help and participation of his students). Then he writes two unusual types of military Dresden and a large number of fantastic leads. In 1766, Belotto with his son decided to go to Russia to the court of Catherine the Great. But along the way he arrives in Warsaw, where he was immediately offered the position of an artist at the court of the Polish king Stanislav II Augustus Ponyatovsky.

For the next fourteen years he lived at court in peace and prosperity. The result – 26 canvases with views of Warsaw, which adorned the Canaletto Hall in the Royal Palace. These canvases, made with meticulous precision, were used in the process of rebuilding Warsaw after World War II. The artist died in Warsaw on November 17, 1780, his grave has not been preserved. Today, on some streets of Warsaw, reproductions of fragments of his paintings can be seen.

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