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Bernardo Bellotto, The Fortress of Königstein from the North

Key facts
Full title The Fortress of Königstein from the North
Artist Bernardo Bellotto
Artist dates 1722 - 1780
Date made 1756-8
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 132.1 × 236.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with the support of the American Friends of the National Gallery, the National Gallery Trust, the Estate of Mrs Madeline Swallow, Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation), Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, The Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, Mrs Mollie W. Vickers, The Manny and Brigitta Davidson Charitable Foundation and The Sackler Trust, with additional support from Mrs Charles Wrightsman, Jean-Luc Baroni, The Linbury Trust, The Monument Trust, Mr Fabrizio Moretti, Sir Hugh and Lady Stevenson, The John S. Cohen Foundation, Mr Jonathan Green, Christoph and Katrin Henkel, Ernst Nissl, Mr Peter Scott CBE QC, Mr and Mrs Ugo Pierucci, Sir Michael and Lady Heller, Mr Adrian Sassoon, Mr Mark Storey, Mr Neil Westreich, Nicholas and Judith Goodison, John and Flavia Ormond and other donors including those who wish to remain anonymous, 2017
Inventory number NG6668
Location Room 40
Collection Main Collection
The Fortress of Königstein from the North
Bernardo Bellotto

Sharp and angular, the Saxon fortress of Königstein, about 25 miles southeast of Dresden, is silhouetted against a pale sky. The artist, Bellotto, was from Venice, and he has applied the traditions of Venetian view painting – a high level of detail, the large scale – to this northern landscape. It is one of the five views of Königstein commissioned from Bellotto by King Augustus III of Poland in 1756.

Bellotto has treated the crumbling stone walls with miniaturist precision: each window and scaffolding pole is highlighted, and soldiers, created with just a few dots of paint, stand guard on the ramparts. This minute observation is combined with a broad panorama. Soft sunlight picks out the men in a grassy glade and a woman with her children while, a little higher, a slice of intense light illuminates the livestock perched on a craggy ledge and a horseman descending into the valley beyond.

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