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

Dresden, the Frauenkirche and the Rampische Gasse

Oil on canvas, 193 x 186 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

Bellotto was not the first painter at the Saxon court employed specially to depict topographical scenes. The tradition of this type of work in Saxony reaches back at least to the first quarter of the seventeenth century and Bellotto's work ought to be interpreted within this tradition. Bellotto's paintings of Dresden show the overall picture of the city, the Zwinger, the principal squares and the two most important churches, the Kreuzkirche and the Frauenkirche. The artist also produced engravings after most of these paintings.

Perpendicular to the image surface and stretching towards the east runs the Innere Rampische Gasse. The left foreground is taken up entirely by the southern wall of the Frauenkirche. This creation of Georg Bahr, completed in 1743 and destroyed in 1945, was hemmed in on all sides by buildings, so that it was impossible to gain a picture of the church in its entirety.

The painter probably used a camera obscurato reduce the church's height; because of the short distance the church is represented with a marked perspective distortion. Undoubtedly in order to prevent such distortions from dominating the image completely and to achieve a better spatial effect, the church is not shown frontally. Instead, Bellotto has shifted his attention to the right, so that the view is determined by the axis of the Rampische Gasse and only the roof and south wall of the church can be seen.

The Frauenkirche was the most important modern church of Dresden, the Kreuzkirche the most important old one. In the pendant to this painting (also in Gemäldegalerie, Dresden) Bellotto represented the Kreuzkirche.