Eyewitness Views: Making History in 18th-Century Europe

Exhibition Website

Sep 10 2017 - Dec 31 2017

In the 1700s, historical events and sights were documented by view painters. Commissioned by princes, popes, and ambassadors, such artists recorded memorable moments first hand, ranging from the Venetian carnival to an eruption of Vesuvius. This first-ever exhibition on the golden age of view-painting includes over 50 scenes of historic events. Turning the beholder into an eyewitness, these paintings, many never seen before in America, bring the spectacle of the past to life. Features key works from leading view painters, including Canaletto, Bellotto, Robert, Panini, and Guardi.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website 

Whether or not you go, the accompanying book Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe brings the exhibition to you. Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, this volume provides the first-ever comprehensive study—in any language—of this type of view painting. 

Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, Luca Carlevarijs, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Francesco Guardi, Hubert Robert—these renowned view painters are perhaps most famous for their expansive canvases depicting the ruins of Rome or the canals of Venice. Many of their most splendid paintings, however, feature important contemporary events. These occasions motivated some of the greatest artists of the era to produce their most exceptional work. Little explored by scholars, these paintings stand out by virtue of their extraordinary artistic quality, vibrant atmosphere, and historical interest. They are imbued with a sense of occasion, even drama, and were often commissioned by or for rulers, princes, and ambassadors as records of significant events in which they participated.

In examining these paintings alongside the historical events depicted in them, Peter Björn Kerber carefully reconstructs the meaning and context these paintings possessed for the artists who produced them and the patrons who commissioned them, as well as for their contemporary viewers.

This vital book represents a major contribution to the field of view painting studies and will be an essential resource for scholars and enthusiasts.

Click here to add this book to your art library: Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe

  • Painting
  • European
  • 18th Century
  • History
  • Canaletto
  • Bernardo Bellotto
  • Giovanni Paolo Panini
  • Francesco Guardi
  • Luca Carlevarijs
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates