Veduta  

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Piranesi, Deuxième frontispice - Le Antichità Romane, tome II
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Piranesi, Deuxième frontispice - Le Antichità Romane, tome II

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A veduta (Italian for "view"; plural vedute) is a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting of a cityscape or some other vista.

This genre of landscape originated in Flanders, where artists such as Paul Brill painted vedute as early as the 16th century. In the 17th century Dutch painters made a specialty of detailed and accurate recognizable city and landscapes that appealed to the sense of local pride of the wealthy Dutch middle class. An archetypal example is Johannes Vermeer's View of Delft.

As the itinerary of the Grand Tour became somewhat standardized, vedute of familiar scenes like the Roman Forum or the Grand Canal recalled early ventures to the Continent for aristocratic Englishmen. By the mid-18th century, Venice became renowned as the centre of the vedutisti. The genre's greatest practitioners belonged to the Canal and Guardi families of Venice. Some of them went to work as painters in major capitals of Europe, e.g., Canaletto in London and his nephew Bernardo Bellotto in Dresden and Warsaw.

In other parts of 18th-century Italy, idiosyncratic varieties of the genre evolved. Giovanni Paolo Pannini was the first veduta artist to concentrate on painting ruins. Vanvitelli and others painted veduta esatta. Later, Pannini's veduta morphed into the scenes partly or completely imaginary, known as capricci and vedute ideate or veduta di fantasia. Giambattista Piranesi was the foremost master of vedute ideate etchings. His topographical series, Vedute di Roma, went through many printings.

In the later 19th century, more personal "impressions" of cityscapes replaced the desire for topographical accuracy, which was satisfied instead by painted, and later photographed, panoramas.

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