BERNARDO BELLOTTO (Venice 1722 - 1780 Warsaw)
Born in Venice in 1722, Bernardo Bellotto entered the studio of his uncle Giovanni Antonio Canal, the famous ‘Canaletto’, around 1735 to train as a painter. He was to remain there until 1742, when he visited Rome, and returned until 1747, when he was summoned to Dresden by Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony.
A splendid example of Bellotto’s style and vocabulary prior to his departure from Italy, this composition is inspired by a drawing of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine executed by Canaletto during a sojourn in Rome in 1719-20, part of a sketchbook that was kept in the master’s workshop, where Bellotto would have accessed it (now British Museum, London and Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt). Yet if the subject derives from Canaletto’s invenzione, the atmosphere, palette and treatment of the painted surface are wholly Bellotto’s. The imposing stones of the Colosseum and Constantine’s Arch are defined by descriptive brushstrokes with a sharp play of light and shadow, while scattered figures observe the monuments’ grandeur in a landscape that is both desolate and rich with historical significance.
Rome, the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, seen from the West
Oil on canvas, 61 x 98 cm
Birkedal, Seekonk, Massachusetts;
T. Gilbert Brouillette, Falmouth, Massachusetts;
Alicia Corchenuk de Buenfil, Mexico City;
with Steven Juvenis and Firestone and Parson, U.S.A;
Anonymous sale [The Property of a Gentleman]; Christie's, London, 26 November 1976, lot 67, as Giovanni Antonio Canal, Il Canaletto.
Gorizia, Palazzo della Torre, Le Meraviglie di Venezia, Dipinti del ‘700 in collezioni private, 14 March – 27 July 2008;
Foligno, Palazzo Trinci, Giuseppe Piermarini tra barocco e neoclassico. Roma Napoli Caserta e Foligno, 5 June – 2 October 2010.
W. G. Constable, <em>Canaletto, Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768</em>, 2nd edition, revised by J.G. Links, 1976, I, pl. 206, II, pp. 393-4, no. 388* (as Canaletto);
C. Beddington, in Bernardo Bellotto, 1722-1780, Venice, 2001, p. 114, under no. 26, n. 7;
Le Meraviglie di Venezia, Dipinti del ‘700 in collezioni private, exhibition catalogue, 2008, pp. 264-5, no. 92;
C. Lollobrigida, in Giuseppe Piermarini tra barocco e neoclassico. Roma Napoli Caserta e Foligno, 2010, pp. 300-301, no. B2.22.