Representing Warsaw (03:10)
After the Mongols and Swedes invaded Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski established 10 years of economic stability and reform. Bernardo Bellotto painted "View of Warsaw from the Terrace of the Royal Castle."
Historical Background (03:45)
Bellotto studied painting in Antonio Canal's workshop and signed his artwork "Canaletto." The King of Poland hired him to decorate Ujazdów Castle and then asked him to make panoramas of Warsaw. Bellotto moved, enlarged, and changed the buildings' facades to create a more pleasing image.
Vision of Warsaw (03:01)
Bellotto incorporated veduta into his paintings and became a harbinger of the Neoclassicism movement. Poniatowski wanted to turn Warsaw into a museum city and hosted Thursday dinners emulating a salon environment. Bellotto painted himself into his canvases in the attire of a rich aristocrat.
Inventing Ancestors (04:07)
Citizens believed that Poland descended from ancient Sarmatians and believed in Golden Liberty. Poniatowski was a lover of Catherine the Great and never officially married. Russia, Prussia, and Austria took a third of the kingdom from the King of Poland.
City Improvements (03:13)
Poniatowski undertook a topographic survey, renovated the palace, and dug canals. Szlachta disavowed Sarmatian beliefs and bought foreign fashions. Warsaw expanded and grew in importance; the population grew to 100,000 people.
Canaletto Room (03:00)
The Canaletto Room contained the 27 panoramas painted by Bellotto. He adopted vanishing lines and changed the horizon line to make the artwork seem more natural. After creating a national constitution, Russia, Prussia, and Austria further annexed Poland.
Canvas Construction (01:31)
Bellotto may have used a camera obscura to capture the images of Warsaw. Freemasonry could have influenced the painter; Poniatowski was a member. "View of Warsaw from the Terrace of the Royal Castle" may include Masonic imagery.
Demise of Poland (03:15)
Poniatowski abdicated in 1795 and Poland ceased to exist. After World War II, reconstructionists re-built Warsaw by using Bellotto's paintings; UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site. Bellotto could have been alluding to trouble by painting the sky light and dark.
Credits: Bellotto: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings (00:38)
Credits: Bellotto: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings
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