The View of the Tiber with the Castel Sant'Angelo was one of Joli's most popular views and was repeated by the artist on a number of occasions, though he introduced differences in the format, viewpoint, and staffage of each representation.1 The boat at lower centre with a gondolier and two seated figures reappears almost identically in the majority of Joli's versions of the subject, but other details remain unique to this particular representation: the yacht at lower left, for example, adds interest to the foreground area (even though its presence is entirely fantastical, for it could never pass beneath the Ponte Sant'Angelo). By contrast, only a couple of variants of the View of Piazza del Popolo are known to exist in Joli's œuvre, despite it being one of the most recognizable squares in Rome and one of the most-painted by vedutisti. Except for Joli's set of views of Rome and Venice painted for Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, the only other known panoramic view of Piazza del Popolo by the artist is a signed and dated canvas of 1759, formerly with Galleria Apolloni, Rome.2
These paintings were most likely already at Hartham Park when Sir John Poynder-Dickson inherited it in 1888, and they were certainly there in 1910 when a manuscript inventory lists them, under the erroneous attribution of Vanvitelli, as hanging in the Drawing Room (see Literature). Hartham had been leased by Poynder's grandfather in 1855 from Lord Methuen of Corsham Court.
Sir John Dickson-Poynder was a distinguished politician and colonial administrator. In 1884, he became 6th Baronet and on inheriting his maternal grandfather's property, he assumed the additional surname of Poynder and settled at Hartham Park in Wiltshire where the Poynder lands were extensive. In 1892, he was elected as the conservative member for the Chippenham division and married Anne Dundas in 1896. In 1910, he was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand, a post he held for two years and in the same year was created Baron Islington of Islington. Whilst maintaining Hartham until 1922, the Islingtons also had residences in Sussex and London, and purchased Rushbrooke Hall in Suffolk to save it from demolition. Lady Islington inherited the paintings after her husband’s death on 6 December 1936 but it is not known where they might have hung. Lady Islington was one of the most admired 'leaders of fashionable taste' and belonged to a group of women known as 'The Lady Decorators.'
1 M. Manzelli, Antonio Joli opera pittorica, Venice 1999, pp. 89-93, nos R.1-22, reproduced figs 54-63 and color plates XXVI-XXVIII.
2 Manzelli 1999, p. 96, nos R. 39 and R. 40.
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