Caspar Van Wittel Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions
12-1653 Amersfoort, NED – 9-13-1736 Rome, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Caspar Andriaans Van Wittel was a Dutch painter who made a career in Rome where he played a pivotal role in the development of the genre of topographical painting known as veduta. He studied painting in Amersfoort with the relatively obscure Thomas Jansz van Veenendaal for 4 or 5 years and then with the better known Matthias Withoos for 7 years.
Caspar Andriaans Van Wittel spent almost all his life in Italy where he arrived in 1674 and died in 1736. He lived mainly in Rome but, particularly between 1694 and 1710, he also toured the country and painted in Florence, Bologna, Ferrara, Venice, Milan, Piacenza, Urbino, and Naples.
Van Wittel and The Invention of the Roman Veduta.
The “Roman landscape”, which reworked the style and settings invented in the “ideal landscapes” of seventeenth-century painting in Emilia and France, became established on the European art market as a virtually separate genre. The birth of the Veduta around 1675 coincided with the arrival in Rome of the Dutch artist Caspar van Wittel. Van Wittel had too strong a sense of reality to attempt any classically oriented idealization. In fact, he was probably one of the first to use a camera obscura, a viewing device whose system of projecting an image onto a flat surface was technically similar to a photographic camera.
The “Roman landscape” genre continued to enjoy great favor until Corot and Turner. It functioned on many different levels: as an exercise in perspective for young artists, as a theme that was sure to sell well, as a nostalgic evocation, or as a Romantic interpretation of nature and the past.
Caspar Van Wittel compositional and perspectival principles remained the same from the 1690s, only the subject matter changed. His work was very popular with travelers on their Grand Tour of Italy.
The main destination for the French, English, and Germans on the Grand Tour was Italy. To be fully a cultured person, one had to follow a certain regime, make certain stops according to the first guidebooks. Italy was not the grand country of the past imagination, it was a magnificent but backward nation, the partially unaware custodian of treasures of the past. Immersed in breathtaking landscapes, but the conservation of its monuments left much to be desired. The Vedutisti genre started by Van Wittel and others did a great service in helping to make people aware and to preserve the history.