Probably anonymous sale, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 24–25 May 1935, lot 47;
From whom acquired by Dorothy Willard in 1938;
With Knoedler by 1950;
From whom acquired by Hirsch & Adler in 1956;
With Arturo Grassi, New York;
Anonymous sale ('Property of a Family'), New York, Christie's, 24 January 2003, lot 163, where acquired by the present collector for $880,000.
The Samuel H. Kress Collection, exh. cat., Houston 1953, pp. 68–69, reproduced plate 31;
S. Kozakiewicz, Bernardo Bellotto, London 1972, vol. II, p. 173, no. 214, reproduced p. 170, and p. 513, under no. Z503;
E. Camesasca, L'opera completa di Bernardo Bellotto, Milan, 1974, p. 100, no. 107A (as an entirely or mostly autograph replica).
This is one of three small autograph versions of the large prototype in Dresden (138 x 240 cm.).1 Of the other two small versions, one is in the Kress Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the other, signed, was formerly in Berlin but lost in 1945.2 A large version (136 x 249 cm.) is in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, though this differs very slightly in some of the figures.3 Kozakiewicz dated the present picture to the end of Bellotto's first stay in Dresden (1747–58). During that time the artist was employed by the Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II and received a very handsome salary of 1,750 talers a year, the highest sum ever paid to a court painter in that city. During these years he painted a series of twenty-nine large views of Dresden, the nearby city of Pirna and the fortress of Königstein; eleven of these views depict Pirna.
The large drawing in the Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw, is considered by Kozakiewicz to be preparatory for all the versions (fig. 1).4
Pirna is located in Saxony, in the Elbe Valley, between Dresden and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The medieval town centre retains its magical charm since it was largely spared from damage during the wars of the last century. Sonnenstein Castle dominates the city and was painted by Bellotto on at least ten occasions.
1 Kozakiewicz 1972, pp. 166 and 173, no. 211, reproduced p. 170.
2 Kozakiewicz 1972, p. 173, nos 213 and 215, reproduced pp. 170–71.
3 Kozakiewicz 1972, p. 173, no. 212, reproduced p. 171.
4 Kozakiewicz 1972, pp. 173–74, no. 216, reproduced p. 171.
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