Lot 24
  • 24

Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli

700,000 - 1,000,000 GBP
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  • Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli
  • Two landscapes with the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola
  • the former signed and inscribed on the packmules lower left: GASP/VAN/WITTEL and BELV/D. FRAS
  • a pair, both oil on canvas
  • 49cm. x 99cm.


Benigno Cristoforo Crespi (1833–1920), Palazzo Crespi, 18 Via Borgonuovo, Milan;

His sale, Paris, Lair-Bubreuil, 4 and 6 June 1914, lots 87 and 88;

Senator Luigi Albertini (1871–1941), Rome;

Private collection.


M. Nicolle, Galerie Crespi. Catalogue des tableaux anciens, Paris 1914, pp. 104–06, nos 87 and 88;

E. Modigliani, La Collezione di L. Albertini, Rome 1942, no. XV (the pair);

G. Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel e l'origine della veduta settecentesca, Rome 1966, pp. 217 and 223, cat. nos 126 and 142, reproduced;

A. Busiri Vici, Peter, Hendrik e Giacomo van Lint: tre pittori di Anversa del '600 e '700 lavorano a Roma, Rome 1987, p. 118, reproduced fig. 123 (Caprarola only);

G. Briganti in Gaspar van Wittel, L. Laureati and L. Trezzani (eds), Milan 1996, pp. 205–206, 216–217, cat. nos 203 and 232, reproduced;

L. Trezzani in F. Benzi et al., Gaspare Vanvitelli e le origini del vedutismo, exh. cat., Rome, Chiostro del Bramante and Venice, Museo Correr, 2002, pp. 158 and 182, under cat. nos 44 and 56.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Gaspar van Wittel. Vanvitelli. Landscape with Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati. Signed on the two packs on two horses in the foreground. This painting is in extremely beautiful condition, having clearly remained untouched throughout its early history. There are small retouchings at the extreme outer edge in the top left corner and upper left edge of the sky, with a few little touches nearby, as also in the left base corner, where there are also a few minute touches nearby visible under ultra violet light. One tiny old narrow crack rises up in the lower right sky for about 2inches and there are occasional other minor little retouchings elsewhere, for instance near the milestone at lower right. However the exceptionally beautiful condition of this painting down to the smallest detail is extremely rare. This report was not done under laboratory conditions. Gaspar van Wittel. Vanvitelli. Landscape with the Villa Farnese at Caprarola. With its pair this landscape has evidently been exceptionally well preserved throughout its early history. The finest details are perfectly unworn, as is the overall tone and luminosity. Both paintings have been relined comparatively recently with strong recent stretchers. As with the pair there are various minor retouchings almost always along the outer edges or corners, visible under UV. The upper left corner in particular has had slightly more retouching than its pendant with some small retouchings in the surrounding sky and below in the cornice of the palace. One small vertical tear can be seen at the centre of the top edge, with a few other scattered retouchings all along the upper edge and in the top right corner. In the clear sky between the trees in the right centre there are one or two slightly larger retouchings. The central view and landscape throughout however is finely intact, as with its pendant. This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
"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

Born in Holland, Gaspar van Wittel, more commonly known by his Italian sobriquet Vanvitelli, created a new type of painting around 1700, the veduta, that would inspire several generations of artists in the years to come, among them Canaletto, Bellotto and Guardi. His paintings are topographical representations of cities, palaces and villas, painted with a warm palette and always including a narrative around the daily life particular to the place depicted. 

The Villa Aldobrandini is situated in Frascati, to the south-east of Rome and still remains the property of the Aldobrandini family, for whom it was built in the 1500s. The villa was celebrated for its wonderful gardens and fountains and was described by Charles Bourdin in his Voyage d'Italie of 1699 as the best in Europe. The present view, taken from the Piazza Municipale, is described in Briganti's catalogue raisonné as the most beautiful of the five versions and by Trezzani as the earliest of all the versions (see Literature). A slightly smaller version of this view was sold in these Rooms, 16 December 1999, lot 94, for £720,000.1 The villa is also depicted in four further autograph views which encompass the east elevation of the villa.

The Villa Farnese in Caprarola, depicted in the second painting, is situated in the hills to the north of Rome. Built in several stages over the course of the 1500s, it was the brainchild of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III. The town was frequented by many Grand Tourists, among them Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, in June 1714, as well as Lord Burlington, who was in Italy 1714–15 and in 1719, and both acquired versions of the present view, the former a tempera on paper still in the Leicester collection, Holkham Hall, the latter the signed and dated drawing from 1713 in Chatsworth. The present painting is probably the earliest of all the known versions.

These two works have most likely remained together since they were painted shortly after 1700. 

1. Trezzani in Rome and Venice 2002, pp. 158–59, cat. no. 44, reproduced in colour.

2. Briganti 1996, p. 216, cat. no. 234, reproduced; and pp. 325–27, cat. no. 110, reproduced.