BELLOTTO, Bernardo
(b. 1720, Venezia, d. 1780, Warszawa)

Rio dei Mendicanti with the Scuola di San Marco

1738-40
Oil on canvas, 42 x 69 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

A nephew and follower of Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto applies the clear reporter's vision of the master to a slower and more intimate exploration of reality. And from his earliest works, Bellotto softens the formal rigour of Canaletto into natural, simple, concrete observations, and his brilliant, kaleidoscopic palette into a dense range of colours, tending towards the coldly bright. In the Rio dei Mendicanti the buildings of the left bank lie partly in shadow and partly in full sunlight. And beyond the bridge standing between light and shade, the dome of the Emiliani chapel in the church of S. Michele in Isola can be seen in the distance. On the opposite bank the corners of the Scuola of San Marco and the seventeenth century building in the foreground are darkened as the shadows of the hour before sunset gather. The density of the chiaroscuro and the paint itself lend the view a fascinating concreteness with every detail assuming an undramatized presence.