PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF SERGEI TCHOBAN, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE MUSEUM OF ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING, BERLIN
The painting, which was engraved by Antonio Visentini in 1742, is part of a series of twenty-one Venetian views of the same size and technique that Canaletto executed between 1730 and 1735. They may have been bought in Venice by the last Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and were later recorded in the collection of his nephew-in-law, Sir Robert Grenville Harvey of Langley Park, Slough. On the latter's death in 1931 they passed to his trustees, and have since been dispersed.2 As Linda Wolk-Simon suggested in her entry in the Horvitz exhibition catalogue, it seems reasonable to date the present sheet to the same five-year period as the painting, although it remains unclear whether it is a drawing that Canaletto made in situ, or a variation of the central portion of his painted version of the scene.
Highly finished drawings such as this, with their refined, precise pen work and painterly handling of wash, figure prominently in Canaletto's graphic work. A view of a rustic courtyard in Padua, now in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, is comparable to the present drawing. The two works share the same characteristics of upright composition, receding perspective, and delicate use of wash to suggest light and shade. Furthermore, the Berlin drawing is also inscribed by Canaletto in the margin below the drawn border, although there the artist is asserting his authorship, rather than identifying the view.3
The purpose of these finished sheets is debatable. To a great extent, Canaletto's draughtsmanship was independent from his painted oeuvre, and finished drawings such as this were produced as views to be sold in their own right.4 At the same time, however, the artist also used his topographical drawings as an archive of views, so that wherever he happened to be working, he could easily produce a painted view of any city that he had visited, or construct a capriccio from various complementary but unrelated structures and motifs.5
In the Mariette sale of 1775 this drawing was sold together with a similarly finished view of the Brenta Canal and the Porta Portello in Padua, which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.6
1. Constable and Links, loc. cit.
2. Constable and Links, op. cit., p. 277
3. See K. Baetjer and J.G. Links, Literature, pp. 316-7, cat. no. 105
4. K.T. Parker, The Drawings of Antonio Canaletto in the Collection of his Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London 1948, p. 25
5. See Gainesville, et al., p. 50
6. Constable and Links, op. cit., pp. 318-9, cat. no. 106
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