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

Vienna, the Lobkowitzplatz

Oil on canvas, 115 x 152 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Following his departure from Dresden Bellotto lived in Vienna from 1758 till 1761, where he worked for Empress Maria Theresa and her courtiers Kaunitz and Liechtenstein. The paintings he executed for the court have been imperial property ever since. For a long time most of them were kept at the Castle of Laxenburg. Since 1890 they have all been preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

The Lobkowitzplatz, the former Schweinemarkt, is seen from the southwest, with Palais Dietrichstein — later Lobkowitz — on the left and on the right the Burgerspital. On the opposite side of the square, in front of the wall of the Capuchin monastery, rises the Missionskreuz. On the left the apse of the Dorothea Church on the Spiegelgasse can still be seen, while in the background the tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral stands out against the light.

Bellotto, however, has not represented visual reality as it appeared to him, but rather — following his visual practice — chosen to beautify it. In fact Bellotto has made a composite of two separate views in this canvas.

Bellotto's paintings for Maria Theresa may be divided into two groups: views of imperial palaces and views within the city of Vienna. The six Viennese town views fall into three sets of two paintings each. In terms of both form and content, the Lobkowitzplatz forms a pair together with the Mehlmarkt (also in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Though the Lobkowitzplatz and the Mehlmarkt seem at first sight to be traditional representations of a square or a palace on a square, on closer inspection these paintings appear to have a monastery in common, which probably is the true subject of the paintings. Whereas the present canvas depicts the back wall around the Capuchin monastery, its companion piece shows the main entrance of the Capuchin church.

The other four works in this group can also be divided into two pairs. There are two paintings which show the Monastery of the Scots and two showing the buildings of the Jesuits and the Jesuit-led University of Vienna.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 8 minutes):
Franz Schubert: Der Wanderer, Franz Liszt's transcription