In spite of the verisimilitude with which the landscape and the architecture are depicted in this work, the composition is in fact an invention of the painter. So we find ourselves before a caprice that brings together a range of different elements and combines the sensitivity for landscape and the architectural knowledge acquired by Bellotto during his numerous travels. The palace presents a host of complex references: the loggia with its Doric columns recalls imperial Roman architecture; the upper balustrade evokes Zwinger palace in Dresden; the pavilion and the lantern hark back to that city's Baroque designs; and finally, the dome brings Palladian architecture to mind while its surrounding sculptures are reminiscent of certain Venetian constructions. The brightness of the palace forms a sharp contrast with the semi-darkness shrouding the river landscape, similar to that which appears in other views of the river Elba painted by Bellotto at the time. The figures (a man fishing, hunters, an ox herd, etc.) provide the scene with a narrative quality.
Together with his uncle and master Canaletto, Bellotto was one of the great Italian view painters of the late 18th century. After his apprenticeship period during which he painted views of several Italian towns, in 1747 Bellotto was invited to the Dresden court, where he produced a number of works that reflected the architectural and urban splendour of the city and its outskirts. In 1758 the artist moved to the court at Vienna and in 1761 to Munich. Towards the end of that year he returned to Dresden, where he remained until 1767, when he settled at the Warsaw court to execute his last great series of cityscapes. [M.G.M.]
Bernardo Bellotto en Dresde : en la Galería de Pinturas de Dresde. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1998, p. 25.
Javier Viar Olloqui. "Museo de Bellas Artes de Bibao" en Album Letras Artes, n.º 83, 2006, pp. 54 y 56.
Marta García Maruri. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 84, n.º 58, ad vocem.