This is one of five views of Lucca formerly believed to be by Canaletto (1697–1768), but attributed to his nephew Bellotto in 1953 by F. J. B. Watson, who referred, however, to their ‘incontestable’ ‘Canalettesque character’. It shows the square in front of Lucca Cathedral from the west, with fountain, figures, carriage and part of the south façade of the Chiesa dei Santi Giovanni e Reparata in the foreground, Palazzo Micheletti at left, Opera di Santa Croce at right, and main façade of the Duomo and campanile in the background.
The 1829 catalogue of the King’s Topographical Collection referred to the five views as ‘taken with the Camera Obscura’, possibly because of their early association with Canaletto, reported to have used this optical device. Images drawn with the camera obscura often show a distortion of the outlines to create an exact perspective that does not necessarily correspond to what we normally see.
- Article by:
- Michael Collins
- Country, Science and nature
With reference to collection items in the British Library and beyond, photographer Michael Collins shows how the portable camera obscura was used as a drawing aid by landscape artists of the late 17th and 18th centuries.