Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto
- Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto
- Venice, a view of the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni and the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
- oil on canvas
- 16 1/4 by 13 1/4 in.; 41.4 by 33.7 cm.
From whom acquired by Sir Abraham Hume, 2nd Baronet (1749-1838), Ashridge Park, in 1790 (his label on the reverse);
By descent to his grandson, John Hume Egerton, Viscount Alford (1812-1851);
By descent to his son, John William Spencer Brownlow Egerton-Cust, 2nd Earl Brownlow (1842–1867);
Thence by descent within the family to Lord Brownlow;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 26 March, 1969, lot 131, for £17,000 to E.P. Taylor;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 11 June 1971, lot 92, for 13,000 gns. to Hallsborough;
Dino Fabbri (1920-2001);
His anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 1 November 1978, lot 53;
There acquired by the present collector.
Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, Canaletto, 17 October 1984 - 28 February 1965, no. 28.
F. Mauroner, "Collezionisti e vedutisti settecenteschi a Venezia," in Arte Veneta, 1947, p. 49 (possibly the "S. Giov. e Paolo - Canaletto" cited in letters between British resident in Venice, John Strange and Venetian dealer, Giammaria Sasso)
W.G. Constable, Canaletto, Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697-1768, Oxford 1962, vol. II, p. 321, cat. no. 309, reproduced vol. I, plate 58;
L. Puppi, L'opera completa del Canaletto, Milan 1968, p. 111, cat. no. 246A, reproduced;
W.G. Constable, Canaletto, Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697-1768, revised by J.G. Links, Oxford 1989, vol. II, pp. 342-3, cat. no. 309, reproduced, vol. I, plate 58;
L. Borean, "Lettere artistiche del Settecento veneziano, 2, Il carteggio Giovanni Maria Sasso - Abraham Hume," in Fonti e documenti per la storia dell’arte veneta, 11, 2004, p. 157.
Extensive research into the Giammaria Sasso archives was carried out by Dr. Linda Borean, who published annotated correspondence between the art dealer and his client in 2004 (see Literature). Thanks to this valuable research and the distinctive subject of the painting, the present canvas can now be definitively identified as that discussed by Sasso and Strange and sold by the former to Hume. On 15 January 1790, Sasso wrote to Hume from Venice to inquire whether he had yet received a shipment of paintings, "Sono curioso sapere se siano giunte costì la cassetta col modellino Tiziano e le altre cose." ("I am curious to know whether the the crate has arrived there with the little Titian modello and the other things.")2 Among the "other things" shipped alongside the Titian were a Tintoretto and paintings by Canaletto, the present canvas included. Hume wrote in reply on 7 February 1790 to confirm the crate had finally arrived, in good order, and he was pleased with its contents, "Finalmente m’è giunta la cassetta aspettata in buon ordine, e sono contentissimo delle cose racchiuse." The Baronet continued his missive, singling out the present view for particular praise, "I Canaletti sono del suo miglior fare, sopra tutto quello dove si vede la statua di Coleone." ("The Canalettos are of his best work, above all that in which you see the statue of Coleone.")
For this unusual Venetian view, Canaletto selected the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni as the composition's imposing protagonist. The artist depicted the sculpture from across the Rio dei Mendicanti and just slightly to the north, facing eastward. This angle permitted Canaletto to incorporate the east transept and dome of the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, yet the low viewpoint ensures the monument looms over the surrounding buildings and dominates the skyline. A skilled military tactician, Bartolomeo Colleoni (1400-1475) was appointed Captain General of the Venetian Republic in 1455. Upon his death in 1475, the general left a large sum of money to the Republic to fund the war against the Ottoman Turks, with instructions that a monument be erected in Piazza San Marco in honor of his service. The equestrian monument was executed by Andrea del Verrocchio, though regulations prevented it from being constructed in Piazza San Marco and it was instead placed in Piazza Santi Giovanni e Paolo, where it stands today.
Canaletto painted another version of this composition, formerly in the collection of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, which Lionello Puppi considered to be a replica of the present painting.3 The Mountbatten canvas is smaller in dimensions and depicts the monument from slightly further south, with variations in the water vessels. A further version of the present painting, this time following its composition exactly, though executed by a member of Canaletto's workshop, sold at Christie's New York in 1996.4
We are grateful to Charles Beddington and Bozena Anna Kowalczyk for endorsing the attribution after firsthand inspection and on the basis of a photograph respectively, and to Dr. Nicholas Penny and Dr. Linda Borean for alerting us to the painting's citation in correspondence of 1790 between Sasso and Hume.
1. F. Mauroner under Literature.
2. L. Borean under Literature, p. 155.
3. For the replica (which measures 11 by 8 1/8 in.; 28 by 20.5 cm.) see L. Puppi under Literature, p. 111, cat. no. 246B.
4. Anonymous sale, New York, Christie's, 4 October 1996, lot 116 (as Studio of Canaletto).