Bernardo Bellotto, known as Canaletto or Canaletto the Younger, View of the destroyed Kreuzkirche, copperplate engraving, 1765, SLUB Dresden Deutsche Fotothek.

City views of Dresden became well known thanks to the circulation of engravings – multiple images that could be purchased at low cost. Some of Bellotto’s paintings were reproduced as prints. This one shows how the construction of “Florence on the Elbe” (as Dresden was once called) was only made possible through accidental or sometimes planned destruction, which was often used to the builders’ advantage.

Here, the artist depicts the ruins of the Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) after the collapse of its tower. This historic church was badly damaged during the Seven Years’ War and was being rebuilt in a different, more modern style when its tower suddenly collapsed in spectacular fashion.

Located at a key point in the city (on the Altmarkt), this church, whose origins date back to the Middle Ages, has inevitably undergone several destructions and reconstructions over the centuries.

Sonia de Puineuf