ANTONIO JOLI | VIEW OF THE ROYAL PALACE OF ARANJUEZ FROM THE NORTH-EAST, WITH KING FERDINAND VI OF SPAIN AND QUEEN MARÍA BÁRBARA OF BRAGANZA ON THE ROYAL BARGE

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ANTONIO JOLI
Modena circa 1700 – 1777 Naples
VIEW OF THE ROYAL PALACE OF ARANJUEZ FROM THE NORTH-EAST, WITH KING FERDINAND VI OF SPAIN AND QUEEN MARÍA BÁRBARA OF BRAGANZA ON THE ROYAL BARGE
Indistinctly inscribed, signed and dated lower centre: Imbarco di piacere di S.M. in Aranjuez di Madrid, Joli 175..
Oil on canvas
75.5 by 129.4 cm.; 29 ¾ by 51 in.
£895,000

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PROVENANCE
Possibly in the Collection of Isabella Farnese, Queen of Spain (1692 – 1776);
The 2nd Earl of Meath (1841 – 1929), Killruddery House, Ireland; By descent within the family for two generations;
From whom acquired by the present owner.

EXHIBITED
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (9 May – 30 July 2017), Minneapolis Institute of Art (10 September – 31 December 2017) and Cleveland Museum of Art (25 February – 20 May 2018), Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, no. 24.

LITERATURE
M. Winne, ‘Una vista de Aranjuez por Joli redescubierta’, in Archivo Español de Arte, July-Sept 1980, pp. 382-84, reproduced figures 11 and 12;
M. Manzelli, Antonio Joli, Opera Pittorica, 1999, pp. 114-5, no S.16;
R. Toledano, Antonio Joli, Turin 2006, p. 258, no. S.IX.2;
Exhibition catalogue, Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (9 May – 30 July 2017), Minneapolis Institute of Art (10 September – 31 December 2017) and Cleveland Museum of Art (25 February – 20 May 2018), p. 216, no. 24, reproduced pp. 133-34, figs. 153 & 154.

CATALOGUE NOTE
This rare view of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez by Antonio Joli dates from the artist’s brief sojourn in Spain, where he worked at the court of King Ferdinand VI from 1749/50 until around 1754. The scene depicts one of the magnificent musical festivals performed by the Real Teatro de Buen Retiro, which included the celebrated Italian castrato Carlo Broschi Farinelli (1702 – 1782), who on the death of the Bolognese painter Giacomo Pavia in 1749, invited Joli to the Spanish court in order to paint theatrical scenery at Aranjuez and at the Real Teatro del Buen Retiro in Madrid. On the Royal barge, in the centre of the flotilla of boats, are depicted the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand VI and his wife Queen María Bárbara of Braganza, for whom Aranjuez was a favourite retreat from busy court life in Madrid.

The Palace of Aranjuez lies around thirty miles to the south of Madrid and still stands today. The Palace and its famous water gardens were originally commissioned by Philip II in 1574, to a design by Juan de Herrera, and were subsequently amplified by the first Bourbon monarch Philip V sometime after 1715, before being partly destroyed by fire in 1748. Ferdinand VI rapidly restored and reconstructed the Palace to a design by Giacomo Bonavía, and work was completed by 1752.

Ferdinand VI and his wife María Bárbara of Braganza normally resided at Aranjuez in the springtime, from Easter until the Festival of San Juan on 28th June, and during that time music provided an important part of their leisure pursuits. Farinelli was in charge of the musical programme for the royal couple and Joli’s painting almost certainly records the occasion of the feast of Saint Ferdinand (the King’s name day) on 30 May 1752, when Farinelli presented to the King a pleasure fleet of five boats that can be seen on the large bend of the River Tagus within the palace grounds.

The present work was included in the Eyewitness Views exhibition at the Getty Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art and Cleveland Museum of Art in 2017/18. In the exhibition catalogue Dr Peter Kerber revealed that a great deal is known about the operas and other music festivals that took place at Aranjuez for they are recorded in great detail in a presentation manuscript compiled for, and in part, by Farinelli in 1758. The document includes a set of watercolour illustrations for the designs and rocaille decoration of the vessels by Francesco Battagloli (who replaced Joli as stage designer for royal theatres in 1754) and a passenger list from 1754 records the presence on the royal barge of the King and Queen, Farinelli, various senior court officials and twenty four sailors, with a band of violins on the prow, together with two violas, two oboes and two trumpets. The manuscript also records that Farinelli, who Joli has depicted standing beside the King and Queen on the balcony of the royal barge, normally sang two arias during the boat trips and was often accompanied by the King and Queen themselves, who were both highly musical. The crowd of onlookers in Joli’s depiction of the event would therefore have not only hoped to catch a glimpse of their monarchs but also to potentially hear a virtuoso performance.

The present view by Joli is known in two other versions or variants: a painting of similar dimensions (oil on canvas, 77 by 125.5 cm.), which was sold along with its pendant, a View of the Plaza and Church of San Antonio at Aranjuez, London, Christie’s, 7 July 1989, lot 110, for £506,000, and is today in the Abelló Collection, Madrid; and a reduced version (oil on canvas, 42 by 77 cm.) sold Madrid, Sotheby’s, 20 February 1992, lot 13, for 61,600,000 ptas ($596,725), also with a pendant of the Plaza and Church of San Antonio, Aranjuez.

Whilst the Abelló version differs markedly from the present work in the disposition and detail of the figures and boats (for example, there are many more onlookers in the foreground in the present work, as well as an avenue of trees running along the left margin with numerous elegant figures promenading), the reduced version appears to be a simplified derivation of the picture in question. Although the artist has omitted numerous figures in the foreground and boats on the river, the painting clearly follows the present design, as attested through the inclusion of the avenue of trees on the left of the scene, the carriages on the right margin and the specific positioning of the barge seen from the stern to the right of island, which in both the present and reduced versions is seen angled closely to the shore, whilst in the Abelló picture lies slightly further off shore, parallel to the island. That the reduced version seemingly derives from the present work rather than the Abelló painting, would argue for the primacy of this picture, a notion further supported by the rare distinction of it being signed and indistinctly dated (unlike the other versions).

A panoramic view by Joli of the Palace and grounds of Aranjuez, taken from a much higher viewpoint, is today in the Palazzo Reale, Naples. A studio variant of the present work was sold London, Sotheby’s, 22 April 2009, lot 80, for £175,250.

For all enquires, please contact JamesV.Macdonald@sothebys.com

Currently Available for Private Sale

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