Vedute, or views, are highly detailed, large-scale paintings or drawings of cityscapes or landscapes. Vedute emerged as a genre in the 17th century in Italy, and became especially popular in the 18th century. In the mid-18th century, Venice became a leading center of vedute painting. Famous Venetian vedutisti include Francesco Guardi and Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto. Vedute typically combine observation with artistic interpretation, often presenting a distorted or idealized view of their subjects.
Vedute paintings and drawings were typically created as standalone works of art, but were also often incorporated into larger, more complex compositions. In the 18th century, many vedute artists worked as staff members of government-sponsored projects to document cities and landscapes. These projects sometimes included cartographic surveys, which helped inform the artist’s depictions.
Vedute continue to be created today, often with the help of photography and computer software. While the genre has evolved over time, its essential elements remain the same: a detailed, realistic depiction of a cityscape or landscape.