The biography of Caspar Andriaans van Wittel (1653 - 1736)

Gaspar van Wittel (1653 – 1736) was a Dutch landscape painter. He was also known in Italy as Gaspare Vanvitelli. His son Luigi would become a famous architect and also carries the Italianized family name of Vanvitelli. In Luigi’s biography is written that his father was born in July 1656 (in Amersfoort), but Van Wittel’s grave in Rome states that he died at the age of 83 in September 13, 1736 in Rome.

Van Wittel learned painting in his hometown of Amersfoort. In Amersfoort, he likely was exposed to Dutch landscape artists such as Jan van der Heyden and Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde. His first extant works were made in Hoorn in 1672, but he relocated to Rome with his family about 1675 and made his career there. He married in Rome in 1697, and stayed most of his life in that city, though, between 1694 and 1710, he toured Italy and painted in places like Florence, Bologna, Ferrara, Venice, Milan, Piacenza and Naples.

He went to Venice in the 1690s and there is a dated veduta of 1697 (Prado, Madrid), which antedates Carlevaris. He was in Naples in 1700, when his son Luigi, later the great Neapolitan architect, was born. He spent his last years in Naples and Rome, where he died.

He worked as a draughtsman on a scheme for regulating the Tiber and this probably gave him the idea of making large and very accurate topographical drawings which could be worked up into 'vedute'. He is one of the principal painters of topographical views known as vedute.

He is now recognized as an extremely important forerunner of painters like Carlevaris, Canaletto and Pannini, since there are dated Roman vedute by him of 1681.