Fourth Itinerary: The Art of the Veduta

This itinerary examines the development of view painting in Venice, tracing its origins from the beginning of the sixteenth-century in cartographic representations like Jacopo de’ Barbari’s bird’s eye view of the city , as well as the topographical paintings of Gentile Bellini and Carpaccio, to its highpoint in the age of Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto and Carlevarijs. As a genre vedutismo – or view painting – was established in Venice in the eighteenth century, introduced by the Netherlandish Gaspar van Wittel (known in Italy as Gaspare Vanvitelli), whose first Venetian view is dated 1697. However, precedents for such city views can be found in the early sixteenth century in canvases by Gentile Bellini and contemporaries like Vittore Carpaccio, who were employed by the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista to execute a series of paintings depicting the miracles enacted around the city by a relic of the True Cross; these paintings are now found in the Accademia in Venice

In the eighteenth century, views of the city of Venice were not incorporated into paintings as back drops for narrative subjects, but rather became the subject in and of themselves. In general, such views functioned as ricordi or reminders of the appearance of the city for foreign visitors and were not widely collected by local inhabitants. As a result, many of the best collections of these paintings are today located outside of Venice. Nevertheless, fine examples of Vanvitelli’s principle Venetian successors in the genre (Carlevarijs, Canaletto, Bellotto, and Guardi) are included in the collections of the Accademia and the Ca’Rezzonico (Museum of the 18th century). Several drawings and prints by these artists are also preserved in the collection of the Museo Correr. One of the most interesting aspects of the work of Venetian view painters is their flexible approach to realistic topographical painting and the capriccio, that is the degree of licence and fantasy that these artists employed when recreating the Venetian cityscape.


Gallerie dell’Accademia

Gentile Bellini, The Procession in Saint Mark’s Square and Miracle of the Cross at the Ponte San Lorenzo

Vittore Carpaccio, Miracolo della reliquia della Croce al ponte di Rialto

Lazaro Bastiani, Donation of Relic of the Holy Cross to the Confraternity of the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista and Ritorno degli ambasciatori

Giovanni Mansueti, Miracle at the Ponte San Lio

Marco Ricci, Landscape with Travellers

Marco Ricci, follower of his uncle Sebastiano Ricci, was a favourite artist in the Grand Tour years. In 1708 he accompanied Charles Montagu, Count of Manchester, and Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini in London to create the scenography of the brand new Italian Opera at Queen's Theatre di Haymarket.

Canaletto, Prospettiva con portico

This is an architectural capriccio, not a veduta. Canaletto preferred to submit this rather than a veduta as his morceau de reception at the Accademia.

Bernardo Bellotto, Rio dei Mendicanti with the Scuola di San Marco

Ruskin thought this was a Canaletto’s work and attempted to reproduce the same veduta painting it from the very same spot)

Francesco Guardi, Incendio al deposito degli oli a San Marcuola

Ca’ Rezzonico – Museo del Settecento Veneziano

Luca Carlevarijs, Veduta di un porto fluviale

Carlevarijs is considered to be largely responsible for establishing the style of Venetian view painting for which artists like Canaletto would later become famous.

Canaletto, Il canal Grande verso Rialto and Rio dei Mendicanti

The artist’s only Venetian veduta that can be seen in Venice

Museo Correr

Jacopo di Barbari, Birds eye view of Venice

You can also see the engraved pearwood blocks used to print Barbari’s map

Il Giovane, Giuseppe Heintz, Ricevimento in collegio and La Caccia ai tori in campo San Polo

Attributed to Giuseppe Heintz, La Processione del Rendentore

Gaspare Diziani, La sagra di Santa Marta