During the 18th century it was common for artists to travel, both to seek inspiration and embrace opportunity. Claude-Joseph Vernet was the most celebrated French view painter of the period. In 1734 he relocated to Rome, where he spent almost 20 years and earned an international reputation. Vernet’s view paintings (or ‘vedute’) were particularly sought after by travellers on the and European rulers. His contrasting pair of paintings, A Landscape at Sunset and A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas, were originally commissioned for the King of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski (1732–1798), whose official court painter at the time was Bernardo Bellotto. Having trained with his uncle Canaletto in Venice, Bellotto went on to enjoy a successful career at the royal courts in Dresden, Vienna, Munich and Warsaw, glorifying the great capitals of Europe through his highly original topographical views.
18th-century painting in Europe