Lot 22
  • 22

Johann Richter

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
368,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Johann Richter
  • Venice, the piazzetta looking north-west towards the campanile, with the biblioteca, the Procuratie Vecchie, the Torre dell'Orologio and numerous figures in carnival costume and a man in Polish dress 
  • oil on canvas


Mrs. John Innes Kane;

By whom bequeathed to The Cooper Union Museum, New York, 1926;

By whom anonymously sold ('The Property of an American Institution'), London, Sotheby's, 26 March 1969, lot 22 (as Luca Carlevarijs), for £12,000, to Marshall;

With Colnaghi, London, 1974;

Private collection, Switzerland, by summer 1978;

Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 16 July 1980, lot 130 (as Luca Carlevarijs);

Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Gentleman'), London, Christie's, 24 May 1991, lot 73 (as Luca Carlevarijs), for £451,000;

Where acquired by the present collector.


Toronto, Art Gallery of Toronto, 17 October – 15 November 1964; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 4 December 1964 – 10 January 1965; and Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, 29 January – 28 February 1965, Canaletto, no. 130 (as Luca Carlevarijs);

London, Colnaghi, Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, 21 May – 22 June 1974, no. 3, (as Luca Carlevarijs);

Pfäffikon, Seedamm-Kulturzentrum, 18 June – 27 August 1978; and Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, 13 September – 5 November 1978, Art vénitien en Suisse et au Liechtenstein, no. 159 (as Luca Carlevarijs).


W.G. Constable, Canaletto, exh. cat., Toronto 1964, p. 156, under cat. no. 130, reproduced (as Luca Carlevarijs);

R. Palluchini, 'Due Vedute del Carlevarijs', in Studi di Storia dell'Arte in onore di Vittorio Viale, Turin 1967, pp. 52–56, fig. 3, reproduced (as Luca Carlevarijs);

A. Rizzi, Luca Carlevarijs, Venice 1967, pp. 63 and 92, reproduced fig. 154 (as a collaborative work, unspecified collaborator);

R. Palluchini, 'Schede Venete Settecentesche', in Arte Veneta, vol. XXV, Venice 1971, pp. 163–64, note 20 (as Luca Carlevarijs);

Colnaghi's Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, exh. cat., London 1974, cat. no. 3, reproduced plate III;

M. Natale, Art vénitien en Suisse et au Liechtenstein, exh. cat., Geneva 1978, pp. 178–79, cat. no. 159, reproduced (as Luca Carlevarijs);

E. Martini, La Pittura del Settecento Veneto, Udine 1982, p. 489, note 116 (as Luca Carlevarijs);

I. Reale, 'Gio. Richter, svezzese, scolare di Luca Carlevariis', in Luca Carlevarijs e la veduta veneziana del Settecento, exh. cat., Milan 1994, pp. 118 and 126, notes 15, 17 and 24, reproduced p. 120, fig. 11 (as Johann Richter).

Catalogue Note

This and the following lot would appear to be the largest works that Johann Richter painted. In their vibrancy of colour, original viewpoints and high level of finish they may be considered his masterpieces, at once indebted to the vedute of his master Luca Carlevarijs and pre-emptive of the explosion in the genre in Venice in the 1720s. They tower over the many smaller views he painted in and around the Venetian lagoon and confirm him perhaps as his master’s equal, or at the very least his worthy heir.

Richter is recorded in Venice from circa 1710 until his death some fifteen years later and almost certainly worked for the first part in Luca Carlevarijs’ studio. By the time of his arrival he was already a proficient painter of landscapes having studied in his native Stockholm with David Klocker Ehrenstahl and Johan Sylvius. Richter’s Venetian works were described in a letter, dated 25 December 1717, by Antonio Balestra as:

'Quadretti… fatti con tutto amore… professando particular propensione alla sua compiutezza'

Some of his early paintings in Venice are virtually indistinguishable from those of his presumed master Carlevarijs and many in fact, including these two lots, were considered to be by Carlevarijs until very recently. Few of Richter’s works are identifiable on documentary evidence but some signed works have come to light, such as the pair of views in Oswald Sirén’s collection, Sweden, both signed and dated 1717 on the reverse. It is however a series of seven engravings by Bernhard Vogel after paintings by Richter from which we learn most. These engravings, discovered and published relatively recently by Isabella Reale, are clearly inscribed ‘IOANNES RICHTER PINXIT VENET’. Five of the engraved views are taken from or looking at the Piazzetta in different directions, one a panoramic, distant view of the the city from the Bacino and the last a view of San Michele di Murano.1

While perhaps not the painting from which it was made, the present lot is, as Reale observed, clearly closely related to Vogel’s engraving. The painting however includes an additional five bays of the Biblioteca on one side and the corner of the Basilica di San Marco on the other. While the staffage does not correspond precisely and each figure is in fact different to what would be his or her counterpart in the engraving, their placement within the Piazzetta does largely correspond, both in the foreground and the background. The engraving is more closely related to two paintings on a much smaller scale: one sold London, Sotheby’s, 10 July 2002, lot 76; the other sold New York, Christie’s, 24 January 2003, lot 164, though even in those paintings there are many differences from the engraving. Reale reproduces a further painting in a private collection with a similar correspondence to the engraving as the present lot.2 Rizzi catalogued both that painting and the present lot as by Carlevarijs with the aid of a collaborator. His recognition of these two works as having been executed in part by another hand was, in a way, the first step towards the reattribution to Richter nearly three decades later.

Rizzi (1967) mentioned that both this and the next lot bore the apocryphal signature: Antonio Canaletto... 

1. Reale 1994, figs. 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, and 15.

2. Reale 1994, p. 120, reproduced fig. 11; or Rizzi 1967, reproduced fig. 155.