T hese two paintings by Canaletto emphasize the significance and popularity of Italy for the 18th century English aristocracy and the architecture of Venice. In particular, the work of the architect Andrea Palladio, which inspired building projects back home in England. A Leading proponent of Palladian architecture was Richard Boyle, 2rd Earl of Burlington, who in 1729 designed Chiswick House and Holkham Hall in Norfolk with William Kent. The Devonshire Collection includes an important group of Palladio’s drawings inherited from the 3rd Earl of Burlington, whose daughter Charlotte married the future 4th Duke of Devonshire.
Burlington was arguably the most influential taste maker and collector in Britain in the first half of the 18th century, and Charlotte was, after his wife, his only surviving heir. The eventual inheritance was substantial and included Lismore Castle in Ireland, Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire and Chsiwick and Burlington House in London.
This pair of views of Venice by Canaletto are unusually painted in oil on copper plate, rather than on canvas. The copper support renders these classic sunlit Venietian scenes with increased luminosity. All of these views on copper, less than a dozen in number, were supplied from Venice to English patrons though the Irish art dealer Owen McSwinney. The paintings were acquired either by the 2nd Duke of Devonshire or his son, the future 3rd Duke.
Chatsworth Canalettos on View at Sotheby's New York
"It is a huge privilege to have so many wonderful examples of 17th, 18th & 19th century paintings at Chatsworth. It is impossible ever to get used to them and we are still learning more about them. Although these paintings are now admired because of their place in the history of art, most of them when acquired were relatively contemporary; perhaps the paint was still wet when they were first hung. As with many previous generations our acquisitions reflect our taste. The Chatsworth House Trust does acquire historic paintings which the charity believes make an important additional to The Devonshire Collection by filling a gap or representing a family member who is otherwise not in the collection. We do find that the ‘old’ mix very well with the 'new,' although the former do set a formidable standard for the latter."