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

Pirna Seen from the Harbour Town (detail)

1753-55
Oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

The main fascination of this view, however, lies in the row of small, simple buildings set parallel to the picture plane, some half-timbered, some in plain masonry, but all shown fairly close up with their sheds and outhouses, washing and stacked wood. Bellotto performs a daring artistic feat by casting these shabby buildings, so central to the composition, totally in shadow. Dutch painting of the seventeenth century frequently used such effects.

Bellotto underlines here the 'Netherlandish' character of his Pirna vedute by adding elements typical of genre painting: laundry is being hung out to dry in the foreground, using a gnarled willow behind a hut as a clothes-pole.