Antonio Joli (Modena c. 1700-1777 Naples)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE BLAIR FAMILY COLLECTIONDescribed by Harper’s Bazaar in October 1927 as ‘extremely popular in the younger fashionable set’, Mr Wolcott Blair and Mrs Ellen Yuille Blair were highly admired for their excellent sense of fashion and design from the 1920s through the 1960s. The Blairs often appeared in magazines and newspapers that featured fine living and society’s best dressed.Wolcott Blair, a grandson of Chauncey Buckley Blair, who founded Merchant’s Bank of Chicago and was an early supporter of the Art Institute of Chicago, grew up in Chicago. He attended Yale College and became a successful investor. Often surrounded by noteworthy company, Mr Blair gained notoriety in international social circles after he hosted his friend, the Duke of Windsor, in Chicago in 1924. Ellen Yuille Blair was born in North Carolina to Nanny Long Yuille and Thomas Burks Yuille and raised in Virginia before her family moved to New York. The eldest of four famous siblings, Mrs Blair attended the Oldfelds School, where she became an accomplished equestrian and met Wallis Warfeld, the future Duchess of Windsor. The two became lifelong friends. Two years after their marriage in 1926 and after the birth of their son, Watson Keep Blair, the Blairs left Chicago and divided their time between New York City, Long Island, Palm Beach and Islesboro, Maine. It was in Palm Beach where the Blairs built a highly acclaimed home. The architect Maurice Fatio of Treanor & Fatio designed the home in 1936, and Ruby Ross Woods and Billy Baldwin decorated it. The home was admired for its clean elegance and photographed for such publications as Vogue, the Palm Beach Daily News, and Harper’s Bazaar. Christie’s is honoured to present a painting from the collection of Wolcott and Ellen Yuille Blair, which was acquired by the couple and descended directly to their son, Watson Keep Blair, who added to the collection. The collection truly embodies the elegance and sophistication of this glamorous family.
Antonio Joli (Modena c. 1700-1777 Naples)

Westminster Bridge, London

Details
Antonio Joli (Modena c. 1700-1777 Naples)
Westminster Bridge, London
signed 'AI·' (centre left, on the flag)
oil on canvas
36 ½ x 59 in. (92.7 x 149.7 cm.)
Provenance
Sir George Chetwynd, Bt.; his sale, Christie’s, London, 16 December 1911, lot 136, as ‘S. Scott’, sold for 160 gns. to the following,
W. Lockett Agnew; his sale (†), Christie’s, London, 15 June 1923, lot 56, as ‘S. Scott’ (155 gns. to Raeburn).
with J. Leger & Son, London.
with Knoedler, New York, October 1923 (Stock No. 15756), as ‘Samuel Scott’, from whom acquired by the following on 16 April 1924,
Thomas B. Yuille, New York, and by descent to the present owner.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Sale room notice
Please note the provenance for this lot should read:

Sir George Chetwynd, Bt.; his sale, Christie’s, London, 16 December 1911, lot 136, as ‘S. Scott’, sold for 160 gns. to the following,
W. Lockett Agnew; his sale (†), Christie’s, London, 15 June 1923, lot 56, as ‘S. Scott’ (155 gns. to Raeburn).
with J. Leger & Son, London.
with Knoedler, New York, October 1923 (Stock No. 15756), as ‘Samuel Scott’, from whom acquired by the following on 16 April 1924,
Thomas B. Yuille, New York, and by descent to the present owner.
and not as stated in the printed catalogue.

Joli painted a series of variants of this view. The earliest, sold from the Moyne collection in these rooms, 7 July 1967, lot 100 (Toledano, no. L.I.8), shows the bridge before three arches on the Surrey side were built, and must date from between October and December 1745, as Richard Walker notes (R. Walker, Old Westminster Bridge, the Bridge of Fools, Newton Abbot, 1979, pp. 235-6). This picture records the bridge as it was a little later, presumably before December 1745 when the centre of the sixth arch from the Surrey side was removed (that of the fifth remained in place until 7 September 1746), and certainly before 17 March 1746 when two of the remaining arches were completed. The wooden centre under the sixth arch from the Westminster side was removed on 14 December 1743 arch before Joli reached London, and also appears in the Moyne picture. This reappears in the smaller variant of the picture under discussion--which may have been commissioned by Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness (Toledano, no. L.I.1), Ambassador to Venice until August 1746, a package directed to whom in Venice is shown on one of the vessels--in which the fourth arch from the Surrey side is shown in a slightly more advanced state--and in a yet smaller variant once in the Northcliffe collection (Toledano, L.I.2), in both of which many of the same boats appear. Toledano records five variants, differing most obviously in the shipping, showing the bridge as completed (nos. L.I.3-7) which presumably postdate 19 December 1746 when the last of the centres was struck.




Lot Essay

This fine view of Westminster, taken from the east, is dominated by Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster on the north bank of the river, and Lambeth Palace on the south bank, the centres of ecclesiastical and political power.

The nearly completed Westminster Bridge, with its arches in white Portland stone, is shown in the centre of the composition. Construction of the bridge, which was built in response to the growth in the population of Westminster and approved by an Act of Parliament in 1736, was begun in 1739, under the supervision of the Swiss engineer Charles Labelye (c. 1705-c. 1781). The building of a bridge to span over 1,200 feet of river was by far the most ambitious engineering project of its day in England. Initially completed in October 1746, the fifth pier from the Westminster side began to sink the following spring. This, after much discussion, resulted in the rebuilding of the pier and two arches, and the bridge was only finally completed in November 1750, having cost a total of nearly £400,000. The first stone bridge to be built across the Thames since Old London Bridge, it revolutionised the ease with which the Thames could be crossed.

On the north bank of the river can be seen the twin turrets of the old Houses of Parliament and Westminster Hall. Westminster Abbey is shown with both of Hawksmoor’s towers which were completed in 1745. The most prominent building to the right of the Abbey is Inigo Jones’ magnificent Banqueting House, completed for King Charles I in 1622, the first purely Renaissance building in London, in front of which, lining the river front, are the handsome town houses of the Dukes of Richmond, Montagu and Portland, as well as that of the Earl of Pembroke.

The view is flanked on the right by the imposing seventy foot high wooden tower of the York Buildings Waterworks which had been erected in 1691. In the centre of the composition, Joli shows the barge that traditionally carried the Lord Mayor of London up the Thames from the city to Westminster to be sworn in office, an event that took place annually on 29 October.

Joli, who was born in Modena, was the most widely travelled of the Italian view painters of the eighteenth century. After studying in his native city he moved to Rome where he entered the studio of Giovanni Paolo Panini before returning north to Modena and Perugia to work as a scene painter. By 1735 he was in Venice, where he came into contact with Canaletto. The Austrian War of Succession (1741-48), however, was to impact on patronage of the arts in Europe and, like other continental artists of his generation, Joli was drawn to London. He arrived, having travelled through Germany, in 1744, and remained in London until 1748, after which he went to Madrid, before returning to Italy in 1755, where he settled in Naples under the patronage of Charles VII, later King Charles III of Spain. In London he is recorded as a painter of theatrical scenery. However, during this period, he also executed a number of decorative schemes, notably that which survives in the hall of the Richmond home of John James Heidegger, manager of the King’s theatre in the Haymarket (see E. Croft Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, Feltham, 1970, II, p. 226 and pls. 35-6), as well as views of London and Richmond. Among Joli’s clients in London were Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, John, Lord Brudenell and Charles, 2nd Duke of Richmond, grandson of King Charles II.

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