Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Antonio Joli (Modena 1700-1777 Naples)
Antonio Joli (Modena 1700-1777 Naples)

A View of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, with the Punta della Dogana in the foreground; and A view of the Bucintoro anchored in front of San Nicolò al Lido, Venice, for the ceremony of the 'Sposalizio del Mare'

Antonio Joli (Modena 1700-1777 Naples)
A View of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, with the Punta della Dogana in the foreground; and A view of the Bucintoro anchored in front of San Nicolò al Lido, Venice, for the ceremony of the 'Sposalizio del Mare'
oil on canvas, shaped
47¼ x 49 in. (120 x 124.5 cm.)
a pair (2)
Painted for Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), as overdoors in the French Room at Chesterfield House, together with three more paintings by Joli, circa 1747; mentioned in the inventory of Chesterfield House, 1815.
Brantingham Thorpe Hall, Yorkshire, before 1866.
Anonymous sale [The Property of a Lady]; Sotheby's, London, 22 February 1956, lot 160 (£1,350 to W. Sabin), as 'A View of San Michele di Murano with the Bucintoro'.
E. Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England, 1537-1837, II, London, 1970, p. 226, no. 3.
F. Russell, 'Canaletto and Joli at Chesterfield House', The Burlington Magazine, CXXX, August 1988, pp. 627-30.
R. Middione, Antonio Joli, Cremona, 1995, pp. 23 and 68.
M. Manzelli, Antonio Joli: Opera pittorica, Venice, 1999, p. 100, no. V.8 and p. 103, no. V.14, figs. 73, 75.
R. Toledano, Antonio Joli, Turin, 2006, pp. 189 and 195, nos. V.I.2 and V.II.

Brought to you by

Georgina Wilsenach
Georgina Wilsenach

Lot Essay

These views of Venice, the former showing San Giorgio Maggiore with the Punta della Dogana, one of the points of arrival into the city from the Giudecca, and the latter, more intimate view of San Nicolò al Lido with the Bucintoro, were painted by Joli as overdoors for one of the most sophisticated interiors of the period, at Chesterfield House. This home of the Earls of Chesterfield was, with Norfolk House, Spencer House and Lansdowne House, one of the series of new London mansions that were among the most spectacular achievements of mid-eighteenth-century architecture in Britain.

Antonio Joli, born at Modena, worked in Perugia, Rome and Venice before coming to London, where he was employed as a scene painter at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket between 1744 and 1748. He had left England by 1750, although he would continue to work for British patrons, both in Spain and at Naples. During his London years Joli found a ready market both for variants of Italian views, which he had already developed, and for views of London, the popularity of some of which is attested by the number of versions he himself executed. Joli's work for the stage led directly to the only extant decorative scheme he painted in London, in the hall of no. 4, Maids of Honour Row, Richmond, then owned by John James Heidegger, manager of the opera at the King's Theatre, and more recently by Edward Croft-Murray, the first scholar to pay due attention to the artist.

Joli's work at Richmond is relatively modest in scale. His first scheme, on a more ambitious scale, was for the hall of Richmond House, Whitehall, which is referred to in correspondence of 1744 between the 2nd Duke of Richmond and the Irish impresario Owen McSwiney, who had long been resident in Venice and was in 1746 to be instrumental in the Duke's employment of Canaletto, who arrived in London in that year. One must assume that Joli's work at Richmond House was seen by Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, the diplomat and politician who is best known to posterity for the letters he showered upon his natural son, Philip Stanhope. The Earl was a man of the most refined taste. He took a close, and indeed, exacting interest in every aspect of the decoration of Chesterfield House, begun in 1746 to the design of the architect Isaac Ware. Work on the foundations was well under way by the ensuing summer and at least some of the major rooms were finished by the end of March 1749.

Arguably the most exceptional room on the ground floor of Chesterfield House was the Ante Room, which by at least 1815 was known as the French Room (fig. 1). This name was due not to the five overdoors supplied by Joli, three views of Venice and two views of Rome, but to the character of the boiseries into which these were intended to fit, which were indeed in the French style, deriving, as T.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer noted, from a design by Nicolas Pineau published in 1727 (see S. Medlam, letter, The Burlington Magazine, CXXXI, March 1989, p. 223). Chesterfield clearly knew that pictures would have to be commissioned as overdoors for Pineau's scheme, in accordance with French practice. Joli's canvases were removed at some stage prior to the occupation of the house by Michael Bass, 1st Lord Burton and carved decorative panels, visible in early photographs (e.g. Russell, op. cit., fig. 64), were substituted. After the demolition of Chesterfield House the boiseries were adapted for installation in an octagonal room at Whitburn Hall; since 1971 these have been in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham (see Medlam, loc. cit.).

The largest of Joli's canvases for Chesterfield House represents the Piazza San Marco (private collection, illustrated in Russell, op. cit., fig. 65), and was complemented by companion pairs of Venice and Rome. The two Roman views represent readily identifiable subjects -- the Piazza del Popolo and the Ponte Sant'Angelo with the Castel Sant'Angelo -- and were recently sold from the collection of Maria Angiolillo (Christie's, London, 6 July 2010, lot 44; fig. 2). When Lord Chesterfield came to require additional overdoors and an overmantel for two rooms on the first floor, he turned to Canaletto (see Russell, op. cit., pp. 627-30), perhaps because Joli had already left London.

More from Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

View All
View All