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Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe

  • Peter Björn Kerber 

    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.

    Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, this volume provides the first-ever comprehensive study—in any language—of this type of view painting. 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.

    This volume was published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center May 9 through July 30, 2017, and at the Minneapolis Institute of Art September 10 though December 31, 2017, and at the Cleveland Museum of Art February 25 through May 20, 2018.

    Peter Björn Kerber is assistant curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum.


    “Significantly, [this] scholarly catalog, by Getty curator Peter Björn Kerber, restores much of the meaning that was lost as these works passed from generation to generation. . . . While anyone can appreciate these paintings aesthetically, viewers . . . require the catalog to understand their layered meanings and slant.” 
    Wall Street Journal


    252 pages
    10 x 11 inches
    288 color illustrations
    ISBN 978-1-60606-525-9

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum