PANNINI, Giovanni Paolo
(b. 1691, Piacenza, d. 1765, Roma)

The Piazza and Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

1744
Oil on canvas
Palazzo Quirinale, Rome

Pannini was one of the most accomplished vedutisti (view-painters) of the eighteenth century. He came from a long tradition of Emilian view-painters and scenery-painters. In 1715 he moved to Rome where he first worked as a decorator painting counterfeit architecture in various palaces. He then found a fuller creative voice by painting scenes of holidays or special events. The spectacular backdrops he used for these works were the squares and buildings of Rome. The beauty of these monumental backgrounds, bathed in clear light that seemed to exalt the very notion of the Eternal City, was so powerful that he had no need of a narrative pretext for them. Many of Pannini's paintings are simple views animated by lively little figures. He had a considerable influence on Canaletto and the great Venetian view-painters of the eighteenth century.

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