Bernardo Bellotto, known as Canaletto or Canaletto the Younger, Dresden, view of the right bank of the Elbe below the Augustus Bridge, 1747, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden.

The Italian artist Bernardo Bellotto (1721/22 – 1780), nephew of the famous Venetian painter Canaletto, painted this large canvas during his stay in Dresden. It is one of the most famous 18th century views of the city of Dresden at a time when it attracted the attention of artists from all over Europe thanks to its architectural splendour.

The artist painted some of Dresden’s most beautiful monuments on a slightly oversized scale (The Augustus Bridge, the Frauenkirche and the Holy Trinity Church). Their silhouettes stand out against a large blue sky whilst being reflected at the same time in the river Elbe below. It is a grandiose depiction in the tradition of vedute (topographical views containing architectural elements) – a popular genre of painting at the time. With his meticulous touch, Bellotto endeavoured to depict with precision the elegant architecture of the city and its river activity. Thanks to his refined colour palette, he creates a bright and soothing atmosphere.

This painting is part of a large series of paintings that show Bellotto’s fascination with the Saxon capital. These dreamy images fed the imagination of Dresden throughout its history, even serving as a reference for those involved in the reconstruction of the city’s historic centre at the end of the 20th century.

Sonia de Puineuf