Canaletto - The former Kreuzkirche in Dresden

by Alexandra Tuschka


It is an important piece of contemporary history that the Italian painter Bernardo Bellotto, known as "Canaletto," captured on canvas:

You can see the former Kreuzkirche in Dresden's city center, viewed from the southeast side of the Altmarkt. On the north side, it is framed by magnificent, palatial houses. The staffage includes numerous distinguished people and churchgoers leaving the church after the service ended at 2:10 pm. At the top of the balustrade, one discovers two tower brass players with trombones who sound music from the tower twice a day.

At the age of 26, the Italian painter was summoned to Dresden by August III to produce a total of 14 large-format paintings of the city as a veduta painter. A veduta refers to a realistic view of a landscape or cityscape. All other aspects of the image, such as light and shadow or the color scheme, are subordinate to the goal of realistic depiction. For example, although Canaletto reproduced the architecture of the Church of the Holy Cross in great detail, he is said to have combined various preliminary sketches into a harmonious whole, so that the image will not have corresponded 100 percent to reality.


It was typical of Canaletto to first make several small and medium-sized drawings using a camera obscura, a small pinhole camera, and then transfer them to the large canvas via a grid of lines. "The former Kreuzkirche zu Dresden" is characterized by a muted and cool color scheme. We find deep yellow, brown and gray tones and only a few colored accents. The architectural character of the painting is emphasized by the harsh contrast of light and shadow, which helps to strengthen the forms.


Canaletto - The former Kreuzkirche in Dresden

Oil on canvas, ca. 1751, 196 x 186 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden


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