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 Piazza di Santa Maria Bianca with the Colonna Mozza and the end of the Via Santa Croce at left, the palazzo and campanile at right and the main façade of the Chiesa di Santa Maria Forisportam in the background. Some laundry hangs from two wash-lines tied around the Roman column.
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.