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    Sale 7575

    Old Master and British Pictures

    25 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 95

    Giovanni Antonio Guardi (Vienna 1699-1760 Venice)

    Portrait of Elisabetta Farnese, Queen of Spain, seated three-quarter-length, in an ermine-lined cloak, with a crown beside her, in a draped interior

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Giovanni Antonio Guardi (Vienna 1699-1760 Venice)
    Portrait of Elisabetta Farnese, Queen of Spain, seated three-quarter-length, in an ermine-lined cloak, with a crown beside her, in a draped interior
    with Schulenburg inventory number '77' (lower right); with number '79' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas, unlined
    41 x 32¾ in. (104.2 x 83.1 cm.)


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    Antonio Guardi seems to have enjoyed a closer relationship with Schulenburg than any other artist, as, in addition to the individual payments he received for specific commissions, the painter--uniquely--was paid a monthly retainer by the marshal. Schulenburg's account books survive for the period May 1730 to 13 April 1745 and these list the regular payments of this salary, which was set at 1 zecchino 5 lire per month until March 1736; it was then raised to 1 zecchino 10 lire and subsequently in May of the same year to 2 zecchini 16 lire, presumably on account of the amount of work done. Guardi was employed principally as a copyist. His copies of Veronese's Marriage Feast at Cana now in the Louvre and Madonna and Child with Saints in the Accademia and of a Bassano Nativity, presumably that in San Giorgio Maggiore, are all lost, but many have survived, including those of Titian's Accademia Saint John the Baptist (Dublin), Veronese's Uffizi Holy Family with Saint Catherine and the Infant Saint John the Baptist (Seattle) and of the Tintoretto School Fortitude and Temperance in the church of the Madonna dell'Orto (sold at Christie's, New York, 11 January 1991, lots 47 and 48; see Pedrocco and Montecuccoli degli Erri, op. cit., nos. 34-6 and 40, colour pls. X and XI, figs. 49-53 and 57). He was also requested to execute copies of works by contemporaries, including Sebastiano Ricci, Piazzetta and Rosalba Carriera.

    Schulenburg liked portraits, whether of himself to send to other people or of members of the royal houses of Europe to display on his own walls to show his powerful connections. Guardi produced for him at least forty, of which twenty were of the marshal himself (see, for instance, Pedrocco and Montecuccoli degli Erri, op. cit., no. 41, colour pl. XII, fig. 58). Most of the others were by necessity based on works by other artists, such as that of the Empress Elisabeth Christine of Austria after Liotard sold in these Rooms, 11 December 1992, lot 18. That picture formed part of a group of 'cinque ritratti della Casa d'Austria' and the present painting is listed in the inventories with five other portraits of members of the royal house of Spain, paid for on 2 October 1745, 5 December 1745 and 23 January 1746 (Morassi's statement, loc. cit., 1960, that the six portraits were paid for on 30 June 1741 was due to a misinterpretation of the documents, as Sir Denis Mahon was the first to observe, loc. cit.). Four others of these survive (ibid., nos. 51 and 53-5, figs. 68 and 70-2): the present sitter's husband King Philip V of Spain, their son King Ferdinand VI of Spain (sold in these Rooms, 22 April 1994, lot 46), his younger brother Philip, Duke of Parma, and the latter's wife Louise Isabelle of France.

    The present picture and its pendant follow the compositions of portraits by Louis-Michel van Loo, of which the prototypes are in the Palacio Real, Madrid, and replicas are at Versailles (exhibited Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux Arts, Paris, Grand Palais, and Madrid, Museo del Prado, El Arte europeo en la Corte de España durante el siglo XVII, 1979-80, p. 160, nos. 90-1, both illustrated). Schulenburg's account books record a payment of 8 zecchini on 21 February 1731 'contati al Pittor francese [Jean Hubert] per li due Ritratti del Re e la Regina di Spagna' (see Binion, op. cit., pp. 110 and 136), which may have a relevance. However, as Morassi observed, 'la pittura lirica accademica dell'artista francese...è tutta pervasa di nuova vita nelle tele del Guardi, alle quali la scioltezza del tocco brillante, l'intensità del colorito, la pastosità della materia conferiscono un significato artistico ben diverso ed un livello qualitativo decisamente superiore'. The suggestion of Sir Denis Mahon (followed by Knox, loc. cit.) that the present work might be the work of Nicolò Guardi would seem unlikely given the circumstances of the commission, and is emphatically denied by Pedrocco (in Pedrocco and Montecuccoli degli Erri, loc. cit.).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Commissioned by Field Marshal Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg (1661-1747), paid for on 2 October 1745 and kept at Palazzo Loredan a San Trovaso, Venice, until his death; bequeathed to his nephew,
    Christian Günther von der Schulenburg, Berlin, and by descent to the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR (LOTS 95-102)

    Johann Matthias, Count von der Schulenberg (1661-1747), who had commanded the forces of Saxony under Augustus the Strong--himself a determined collector of pictures--was appointed Field Marshal of the Venetian armies in 1715 and remained in the service of the Republic until his death in 1747. In 1716 he scored a monumental victory by driving the armies of the Ottoman Empire away from the besieged island of Corfu. Such was the joy of Venice that Vivaldi's opera Juditha triumphans was commissioned in celebration of the victory; Schulenburg was declared the Saviour of the Republic, commemorated by a statue and given a pension of 5000 ducats a year.

    By 1747 his collection numbered some 957 items, including paintings, drawings and sculpture. He was arguably the greatest single patron of contemporary Venetian painters, owning notable groups of works by Piazzetta, Giovanni Antonio Guardi, the Ricci and Pittoni, and of views by Canaletto, Marieschi and Bellotto.

    This collection, one of the most remarkable gatherings of its time, was kept in Schulenburg'’s Venetian residence, the Palazzo Loredan a San Trevaso. Schulenburg's ultimate, patriotic intention was to establish the largest collection of pictures in Germany, at the Berlin palace built by his nephew Adolph Friedrich. To this end, a steady trickle of purchases made its way north, with notable shipments recorded in the years 1736-1740.

    Although Schulenburg became a collector almost inadvertently, accepting his first group of pictures as collateral for a loan in 1724 (see below note, lot 99), he soon came to treat his new occupation with passion and determination. With Venice as the major centre of the early eighteenth-century trade in Old Masters, he could not be better placed to build an outstanding collection. He built close relationships with the contemporary painters he patronised, particularly Giovanni Antonio Guardi and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta.

    The Schulenburg collection is well-documented by a number of inventories, which often scrupulously record valuations made by the Professori of Venice, a group of art experts that included Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Francesco Simonini, Angelo Trevisani, and Piazzetta himself.


    Literature

    Schulenburg libri-cassa, Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, entry for 2 October 1745, recording a payment of 8 zecchini 17 lire 7 soldi for 'due ritratti del Re e Regina di Spagna e 4 stampe di Rubens'.
    1741, 30 Giugno Venezia, Inventario Generale della Galleria di S.E. Maresciallo Co: di Schulemberg...La qual Galleria pricipio à formarsi l'anno 1724 ripartita coll'ordine che segue, in the supplement Tableau achetés après le sudit Catalogue, Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, Dep. 82, Abt. III, N. 37, as one of six 'Tabl. rappt la Famille d'Espagne Filippe V avec son Epouse, le Roy Ferdinand avec son Epouse, et Dn Filippe avec son Epouse' by Guardi, valued at 15 ecus d'Allemagne.
    Venezia à Agosto 1747, Quadri e Ritratti Essistenti nelle differenti Camere del Palazzo del Defonto Eccellentissimo Maresciallo, Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, Dep. 82, Abt. III, N. 33, as one of 'Sei Ritratti rappresentano la Famiglia di Spagna, cioè Filippo Quinto, e sua moglie, il Ré Ferdinando, e sua moglie, don Filippo e sua moglie' by Guardi, valued at 75 ducats.
    A. Morassi, 'Antonio Guardi ai servigi del feldmaresciallo Schulenburg', II, Emporium, CXXXI, May 1960, p. 204.
    R. Pallucchini, 'Note sulla Mostra dei Guardi', Arte Veneta, 1965, p. 216.
    D. Mahon, The Brothers at the Mostra dei Guardi: some Impressions of a Neophyte, in Problemi Guardeschi (Atti del Convegno di Studi promosso dalla Mostra dei Guardi, Venezia, 13-14 Sett. 1965), Venice, 1967, pp. 76-7, fig. 23.
    A. Morassi, 'Antonio Guard', in Sensibilità e razionalità del Settecento, Florence, August 1967, p. 505.
    A. Morassi, Guardi, Venice, 1973, I, pp. 59 and 330-1, no. 121, and II, fig. 143.
    A. Binion, La Galleria scomparsa del maresciallo von der Schulenburg, Milan, 1990, pp. 179, 245 and 259.
    G. Knox, catalogue of the exhibition, 18th Century Venetian Art in Canadian Collections, Vancouver Art Gallery, Musée du Québec and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 1989-90, p. 26, under no. 11.
    H.W. Grohn in the catalogue of the exhibition, Venedigs Ruhm im Norden: Die grossen venezianischen Maler des 18. Jahrhunderts ihre Auftraggeber und ihre Sammler, Forum des Landesmuseum, Hanover, 3 December 1991-2 February 1992, and Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, 16 February-26 April 1992, p. 166.
    F. Pedrocco and F. Montecuccoli degli Erri, Antonio Guardi, Milan, 1992, pp. 39, 42 and 129, no. 52, p. 198, fig. 69.
    R. Pallucchini, La pittura nel Veneto: Il Settecento, II, Milan, 1996, p. 15.


    Exhibited

    Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Mostra dei Guardi, 5 June-10 October 1965, pp. 21-2, no. 11, illustrated (catalogue by P. Zampetti).