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Luca Carlevarijs

Luca Carlevarijs or Carlevaris (20 January 1663 – 12 February 1730) was an Italian painter and engraver working mainly in Venice. He pioneered the genre of the cityscapes (vedute) of Venice, a genre that was later widely followed by artists such as Canaletto and Francesco Guardi.

Carlevarijs was born in Udine, but worked mostly in Venice. His vedute of Venice are among the earliest Baroque depictions of the city. He was influenced by the Dutch painter active in Rome, Caspar van Wittel. The painters Canaletto and Antonio Visentini are said to have been highly influenced by or pupils of his. Johan Richter did work with him. Also called Luca Casanobrio or Luca di Ca Zenobri, for his patronage by the latter family.

Carlevarijs was born in Udine. He was also known as ‘Luca Casanobrio’ or ‘Luca di Ca Zenobri’, for his patronage by the latter family. He worked principally in Venice, where he also died. His daughter, Marianna Carlevarijs (1703 – 1750) learned the art of pastel portraiture from Rosalba Carriera.

Carlevarijs visited Rome. Here he was influenced by the Dutch painter Caspar van Wittel (often called Vanvitelli), who was a long-term resident of Rome. Van Wittel was the pioneer of the genre of vedute of Rome. Carlevarijs then started to create vedute of Venice, which are among the earliest Baroque depictions of the city.

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He painted landscapes, sea-pieces and perspective views. His works included cityscapes with a topological interest as well as imaginary landscapes with ruins. He completed over a hundred etchings of views in Venice, which give an exact representation of the principal places in that city.

The painters Canaletto, Francesco Guardi and Antonio Visentini are said to have been influenced by his work or even have been his pupils. His paintings and his set of 104 etched views of Venice, which were published in 1703, were the foundation on which Canaletto and Guardi built.Johan Richter collaborated with him. He also collaborated with specialist figure painters who added the staffage into his landscapes or cityscapes. He worked mostly in Venice.

Luca Carlevarijs specialize in views of Venice. The artist’s many precise renditions of the city reveal his early training as a mathematician. His painting of the Piazzetta places the viewer in a boat on the Grand Canal, looking north toward the Piazza of San Marco. The direction of the shadows-from the southwest-indicates that the time is afternoon. On the left are the library of Sansovino, the lower portion of its Campanile, and the column of Saint Theodoric. To the right are the south side of Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the column of Saint Mark. The buildings, though not entirely accurate in certain architectural details, remain largely unchanged to this day.

Despite an apparent lack of any formal training, Luca Carlevarijs excelled as a Venetian view painter. Scholars considered him the first artist to have consciously emphasized the importance and grandeur of Venice by depicting it as a center of international activity. Carlevarijs began his career in 1703 with the monumental publication of The Buildings and Views of Venice Designed in Perspective and Engraved by Luca Carlevarijs. The illustrations of 104 views of Venice were, at the time, considered “the most complete survey of the fabric of the city ever produced.” Because the publication was considered by many as patriotic, Carlevarijs won favor and patronage from the residents of Venice. Carlevarijs documented many diplomatic scenes such as the arrival of dignitaries to Venice, who were customarily greeted with elaborate celebrations in their honor. The paintings were then given to the dignitaries to take home, where they would serve as a type of advertisement for the dramatic and lavish city. Although large pageant paintings were Carlevarijs’s most notable commissions, he also made dynamic drawings and oil sketches of everyday Venetian life, conveying the vivacity of a busy city.

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