Joli arrived in London in 1744, several years before his celebrated kinsman and rival, Canaletto. He was clearly inspired by the freshness and air of optimism he found, and produced a number of ravishing views of London showing the Thames bustling with activity, and bearing elaborate and ornamental barges, lending a distinctly Venetian feeling to this most quintessential English view. Joli's English patrons included Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, for Chesterfield House, and John Lord Brudenell, for whom he painted a large set of views of towns which he had visited on the Grand Tour. Both Joli and Canaletto enjoyed the patronage of Charles, 2nd Duke of Richmond, who commissioned from Joli a 'View of St Paul's.... a beautiful picture and veramente di buon gusto' in 1744, prior to Canaletto's superb painting of the same view.
This painting came from the celebrated collection at Hendon Hall, an early Georgian house which was sold by the executors of William, Marquis of Powis, in 1756. The buyer was James Clutterbuck, a financier, who acquired the house for his friend David Garrick. Though his memorial was erected at Hendon, Garrick apparently never lived there, but he did arrange for his nephew the Rev. Carrington Garrick to occupy the house at Hendon, and Hendon Hall and its estate was left on trust for him upon Garrick's death. It is tempting to suggest that this view by Joli was commissioned or acquired by Garrick but it is more likely that the substantial collection of pictures at Hendon Hall was collected in the early nineteenth century by Charles Cumberlege-Warre, nephew of a later owner, Samuel Ware. An 1850 manuscript catalogue of the collection listed over two hundred paintings and sculptures, including the present work, and Frederick Earp supplied watercolour illustrations of most items. Probably the most celebrated painting in the collection was a ceiling by Tiepolo which was acquired from the Wrightson collection by the National Gallery in Washington. The collection covered a wide range of artists including Veronese, Reni, Hals, Giordano, Guardi, Vernet, and another work by Joli depicting Paestum.
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