Best known for his vedute, or view paintings, Giovanni Paolo Panini extended his versatility to portraits, decorative frescoes, and stage design. He also designed architecture, carvings, festival decorations, and ecclesiastical furnishings. He first trained in illusionistic painting under a stage designer in his native Piacenza, then moved to Rome to study figure drawing. Soon he found his specialty in decorations and vedute.
By 1716 Panini was making real and imaginary views of Rome's ancient and modern monuments, which were extremely popular with tourists. His vedute were innovative, unique, and always picturesque; his boldness, sureness in placement of architecture and elegant figures, clear colors, and precise draftsmanship influenced many. His views of festivals, ceremonies, and dignitaries' visits offered lively documents of contemporary events.
By 1719 Panini was already receiving honors: membership in both the Congregazione dei Virtuosi al Pantheon and the Accademia di San Luca, where he taught and later became principal. During the 1720s and 1730s, he painted decorative frescoes for such clients as the pope, which made him famous. Married to a French woman, Panini also taught at the Académie de France in Rome and influenced many French artists, including Jean-Honoré Fragonard. His thriving workshop included Hubert Robert.