Lot 72
  • 72

Michele Marieschi

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Michele Marieschi
  • Venice, a view of the Molo from the Bacino di San Marco
  • oil on canvas


With William Buchanan;
From whom acquired by Robert Stayner Holford (1808-1892), Dorchester House, London, in 1845;
By descent to his son, Sir George Lindsay Holford (1860-1926), Dorchester House, London;
Sale, Christie's, London, 15 July 1927, lot 72, for 1,050 guineas, to Joubert (as Marieschi);
Robert Henry Benson (1850-1929), Sir George's brother-in-law and executor;
Thence by descent;
Subsequently acquired by the present owner.


London, New Gallery, Venetian Art, 1894-95, no. 249.


G.F. Waagen, Treasures of  Art in Great Britain, London 1854, vol. II, p. 198 (as Canaletto, "The Well-known view of the Doge's Palace, with the Piazzetta, &c., of unusually powerful effect and excellent body.");
B. Berenson, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, London and New York 1894, p. 97 (as Canaletto);
The Holford Collection:  Dorchester House, vol. II, London 1927, p. 26, no. 141, reproduced pl. CXXVI (as Marieschi);
W.G. Constable, Canaletto, London 1962, and subsequent editions revised by J.G. Links, vol. II, no. 107(c) (as rejected from the Canaletto catalogue).


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The condition seems to be particularly good. This artist paints in a more muscular fashion than his contemporaries, and there is a visible health to the paint layer which has withstood the test of time very well. The work can certainly be hung in its current condition. The varnish may be slightly soft, but the restoration is good. The work is arguably slightly under-cleaned, perhaps with a slight patina in some of the architecture, but no further cleaning is advised. There are a very few retouches in the upper sky. There are also a few isolated retouches in the lower left and in the black hulls of some of the gondolas in front of the doge's palace.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Ralph Toledano was not aware of the the present painting when he published his various works on Marieschi, but in a letter of 29 November 2010, he confirms the attribution on the basis of first hand inspection.  

The picture is highly characteristic of Marieschi’s oeuvre. It depicts, in panoramic fashion, one of the most famous and picturesque views in Venice: the Molo as seen from the waters of the Bacino di San Marco. From left to right, the artist has portrayed the library—designed in 1537 by Jacopo Sansovino—with the Campanile rising dramatically above it; the columns of Saints Theodore and Mark; the Doge’s Palace, with the Basilica of San Marco behind; the prisons; and the Gothic Palazzo Dandolo (now the Hotel Danieli). In the foreground, the waters of the Bacino are busy, with various vessels, including the ceremonial Fusta, moored on the far side of the basin, while closer to the viewer, gondolas, barges and other vessels traverse the waters, ferrying people and goods from place to place.

Marieschi has employed a complex perspectival recession and luminous effects of light to achieve the balance evident in the present painting. The flickering, feathery reflections of the library, palace and columns in the waters of the Bacino are masterfully portrayed, imbuing the scene with a momentary, fleeting feel. The pink Rococo clouds that dot the otherwise clear sky—studded with Marieschi’s characteristic impasto touches—further heighten the vibration and movement that animates the entire surface of the work.

As is characteristic of Marieschi’s work, there are several versions of this composition, including an early canvas sold in these rooms on 27 January 2011, lot 189. Other well known versions include the composition in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Montecuccoli no. 186) and the work in the Gemäldegalerie, Potsdam (formerly in Charlottenburg Castle, Berlin) (Montecuccoli no. 92).1 The composition is incorporated into the dedication page to Prince Marc de Beauveau Craon, Marieschi’s Magnificentiores selectioresque urbis venetiarum prospectus, quo olim Michele Marieschi, venetus pictor et architectus in plerisque tabulis dipinxit, a series of views of Venice etched by Marieschi himself and published in 1741.2

1.  F. Montecuccoli degli Erri and F. Pedrocco, Michele Marieschi, La vite, l'ambiente, l'opera, Milan 1990, p. 416, nos 186 and p. 317, no. 92.
2.  See R. Toledano, Michele Marieschi, Catalogo ragionato, 2nd revised edition, Milan 1995, p. 44, no.V.1.g.