Flemish painting and De Jonckheere Gallery's old master paintings
(Amersfoort 1653 – Rome 1736)
Born in Amersfoort in July 1653, Gaspar van Wittel was the initiator of vedutism at the end of the 17th century. He was the pupil of Matthias Withoos before he left for Italy. It was this apprenticeship that directed his sensitivity towards a new form of ‘realism’, which the painters from the Netherlands and Utrecht began to spread throughout Europe. This sensitivity highlighted a taste for the portrayal of landscapes detached from the traditional and idealised conception of Italian landscape artists. The taste for detail and analytical transcription had already developed in his art before he reached Italy in 1675. When he arrived in Rome, van Wittel began to work for the hydraulic engineer Cornelis Meyer of Amsterdam. His first major work consisted of producing fifty drawings of the course of the Tiber between Perugia and Rome, which are currently kept under the name of Codex Meyer at the Corsiniana Library in Rome.
Thanks to the various works that he carried out for the engineer Cornelis Meyer, van Wittel frequented printing studios and witnessed the development of the illustrated guides of Rome for tourists. Seduced by the numerous travel guides, he began to specialise in cityscapes as of 1680. His control of perspective and the sensitivity he developed during his training make his vedute images of a resolutely modern and lively town, rather than an ancient one.
Between 1680 and 1685, he executed numerous drawings that would serve as a catalogue of forms throughout his career. By 1690, he had truly established his style and his views of Rome were classified. He made long journeys (Venice, Florence, Naples, Verona) during which he produced numerous drawings. Thanks to the works he left there, numerous Venetian painters, such as Carlevarijs and Canaletto, as well as the Napolitan Giovan Battista Lusieri, were able draw the principles of the modern veduta from his oeuvre.