Rivers by Bernardo Bellotto, Canaletto

Here is a selection of rivers painted by Bernardo Bellotto (1721-1780), the famous Venetian artist whose Roman landscapes we’ve already explored.

Bellotto – who shares the nickname “Canaletto” with a more famous uncle, Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697-1768), under whom he began his career – is the protagonist of a theater play by Cesare De Seta, who imagined a conversation between the famous vedutista and some colleagues of his.

Here are a few excerpts from the Neapolitan playwright’s work that regard Rome, whose Tiber is among the famous Italian rivers featured in the gallery below.

“I was twenty years old when I decided to go to Rome, and I do not know whether my uncle ever went there or not, with the grandfather whose name I bear. I arrived in the winter of 1742. It was a huge city that almost frightened me, under a ceaseless rain. I rushed to see the sights despite the weather, and caught a glimpse of the Coliseum from Campo Vaccino, in the fog. Everything seemed unreal, almost out of a fairy tale.”

“I portrayed the harbor settling on the same side, from a centered perspective angle. In fact, the beautiful architecture of the port is barely visible: I was more interested in the bank, in the wing of buildings with Palazzo Borghese in the foreground, in the elegant factory on the background, where vanishing lines converge. I lingered especially on the people that happened to be there: I stepped back – as I did in other paintings as well – behind a curtain arranged as a sunshade. I do not think that the Port of Ripetta has ever been represented in quite the same way” (translated from C. De Seta, “Venezia e Moby Dick”, Neri Pozza, Vicenza 2016).


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