BERNARDO BELLOTTO (Venice 1722 - 1780 Warsaw)

Bellotto’s capricci, imaginary architectural compositions, are often dated to his second sojourn in Dresden (1761 – 1766). The artist was first summoned there in 1747 by Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, to paint topographical views of the area.  

Bellotto began his artistic training in the workshop of his uncle, the great topographical painter Canaletto.  Perhaps most remarkable is Bellotto’s ability to not only parallel his uncle’s virtuosity but to do so whilst crafting out his own individual and recognisable style.  This style is fully manifested in his capricci, where Bellotto combines his expert handling of architectural forms with the convincing recession of space, the play of light and shadow, and the integration of human figures into the scene. An Architectural Capriccio skilfully embodies this amalgamation of painterly elements. Bellotto offers a view into a large courtyard, characterised primarily by its high arches, decorated in the Corinthian order and topped with an ornamental frieze. The smaller arches to the right provide a glimpse of another series of decorative archways at the bottom of the hilly landscape upon which dusk descends.

Similar capricci from this period are now housed in major collections in Dresden, Hamburg and at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

An Architectural Capriccio
Oil on canvas, 115 x

Mrs Freeman, Maine;
Rudolf Heinemann;
with Thomas Agnew and Sons, London.

Dario Succi, November 2005.

Colnaghi, New York, Views from the Grand Tour, 25 May - 30 June 1983;
Harari & Johns Ltd, London, Six Centuries of old Master Paintings, 16 November - 15 December 1989;
Gorizia, Palazzo della Torre, Le meraviglie di Venezia, 14 March - 27 July 2008;
Conegliano, Palazzo Spinelli, Bernardo Bellotto. Il Canaletto delle corti europee, 11 November 2011 - 15 April 2012.


C. Whitfield, in Views from the Grand Tour, 1983, p. 8, no. 1; Harari &Johns Ltd, Six Centuries of Old Master Paintings, 1989, no. 21; D. Succi, in Le meraviglie di Venezia, 2088, p. 266, no. 93; A. Delneri, «Il valore simbolico dell’immagine urbana dei vedutisti veneziani del Settecento», Bernardo Bellotto. Il Canaletto delle corti europee, 2011, pp. 62-67, no. 11.