Lot 39
  • 39

BERNARDO BELLOTTO | Pirna, a view of the the Market Square

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • After Bernardo Bellotto
  • Pirna, a view of the the Market Square
  • oil on canvas
  • 47 by 78.7cm.


Emile Pereire (1800–1875); Probably anonymous sale, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 24–25 May 1935, lot 47;

With Knoedler;

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;

Private collection; 

Anonymous sale ('Property of a Family'), New York, Christie's, 24 January 2003, lot 163, where acquired by the present collector for $880,000.


New York, New York World's Art Fair, Masterpieces of Art, May–October 1940, no. 36.


W. Pach, Catalogue of European & American Paintings, 1500–1900, exh. cat., Masterpieces of Art, New York 1940, p. 28, no. 36, reproduced; 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).


The following condition report is provided by Henry Gentle who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Bernardo Bellotto The Market Square Oil on canvas, in a reproduction gilt wood frame in good condition The original canvas has an old lining and has been more recently strip-lined to strengthen the tacking edge. Raking light shows the coarse nature of the original canvas which retains a good tension. There is no distortion to the canvas. Under UV light the top edge is visibly strengthened to a width of 5cm. Similarly a 3cm wide strip along the bottom edge has been strengthened. A reduction of diagonal stretcher marks from an old stretcher can be detected in the sky, top left and right. The paint layer, generally, is well preserved, although some of the more pronounced areas of paint impasto, particularly to the highlights, have been slightly compromised. Under UV lighting further scattered loss can be seen across the surface where pitted loss to the paint layer has occurred. Minor abrasion to the 'peaks' of the textured canvas is evident; this is most visible to the roofs and the flagstone paving. Some strengthening of the shadows has been undertaken and likewise the darker aspects of the buildings, such as the window frames and the finials. There is still a crispness remaining to the composition and the colours saturate well and retain their vibrancy. Much of the restoration is excessive and not well colour matched. The removal of the remains of a degraded varnish would improve the overall tonality.
"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

Bernardo Bellotto was the nephew of Canaletto, and it was in his uncle's studio that he received his unparalleled training. Remarkably, by the age of sixteen, he was already registered as an independent master in the Venetian painters' guild. To Canaletto's style, Bellotto added a cooler light, which was to prove ideally suited to his depictions of the major cities of the north of Europe, including Dresden, Vienna, Munich and Warsaw, where he worked after leaving Italy at the age of twenty-five. 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.