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Bernardo Bellotto (1721-1780) began his career in Venice, where he probably studied with his uncle, Canaletto (Antonio Canal), one of the best-known Italian view painters. By the age of twenty-five, Bellotto had achieved considerable success, having been commissioned to paint views of such cities as Venice, Florence, and Rome for Italian and other European patrons. His best view paintings combine precise topographical detail with a dramatic use of light and shade, all infused with a vivid sense of atmosphere. As well as accurate depictions of existing buildings, he also produced imaginary landscapes, called capricci, both on commission and to sell on the open art market. In 1747 Augustus III, King of Poland, invited Bellotto to move to Dresden, then part of Poland, where the artist was soon named court painter. Bellotto traveled to several other central European cities in subsequent years and painted cityscapes in each one; he lived in Vienna from 1759 to 1761, in Munich in 1761, and returned to Dresden in 1762. In 1767 he took up residence in Warsaw, where he became court painter to Stanislaw II, the last King of Poland, and remained in the city for the rest of his life.
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