Warsaw – Royal Castle (Canaletto Hall)

I’ve just realised that another thing I never got around to doing was writing about the Royal Castle in Warsaw (on the left in the above photo), which I’ve visited a few times before on free admission days. Very thrifty…. I visited with Richard when we were in the city a few weeks ago and we had a meander around, although the downside of visiting on free admission days is that it’s very busy. But more on the building in another post.

This post is mostly just photos from one particular room that I’ve managed to misunderstand the importance of before. The paintings are all by Bernardo Bellotto (1721-1780) who was the nephew of Canaletto and he also used his name which confuses things a little. These artworks have had a busy time of it since they were painted between the late 1760s and the early 1780s. They were placed in the castle following their commission by King Stanislaus Augustus, a collection of 22 different street scenes of Warsaw and a canvas showing the King’s election.

The paintings weren’t here for that long, as Napoleon pinched four of them in 1807, made worse by Tsar Nicholas I stealing the whole lot in 1832. They were recovered and put back in the Royal Castle, but then the Germans pinched the whole collection again in 1939. The Nazis then destroyed the entire castle building in 1945, before it was carefully reconstructed between 1971 and 1984. And then the collection of paintings was put back once again in this recreated room in 1984, an amazing tale of survival. And the paintings have also played a crucial part in the rebuilding of Warsaw, as they were used by the post-war architects to restore the Old Town area back to as it looked in the late eighteenth century.