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Venice, the Grand Canal with the Rialto Bridge seen from the South

Venice, the Grand Canal with the Rialto Bridge seen from the South
oil on canvas
24 x 36 in. (60.7 x 91.5 cm.)
(Probably) supplied to Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 2nd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1720-1794), Clumber Park, in 1741, and then by descent at Clumber House, Nottinghamshire, where first recorded in his posthumous inventory of 1794, through his third but older surviving son,
Thomas, 3rd Duke of Newcastle (1752-1795), and by descent to his son,
Henry Pelham, 4th Duke of Newcastle (1785-1851), and by descent to his son,
Henry Pelham, 5th Duke of Newcastle (1811-1864), and by descent to his son,
Henry Pelham Alexander, 6th Duke of Newcastle (1834-1879), and by descent to his son,
Henry Pelham Archibald Douglas, 7th Duke of Newcastle (1864-1928), by whom bequeathed to his nephew,
Henry Edward Hugh Earl of Lincoln, later 9th Duke of Newcastle (1864-1928); his sale, [The Property of the Honourable the Earl of Lincoln Inherited under the will of the late Henry Pelham Archibald Douglas Pelham-Clinton]; Christie's, London, 31 March 1939, lot 7, as 'A. Canaletto' (285 gns. to Assher and Welcker).
with Edward Speelman, London.
J.S. Sykes.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 8 December 1971, lot 38, as 'Antonio Canale, called Canaletto' (£22,000 to T. Parkinson).
[Property of a European Gentleman]; Sotheby's, New York, 17 January 1986, lot 125, as 'Giovanni Antonio Canale, called Canaletto, and Studio'.
with Harari & Johns, Ltd., London, as 'Giovanni Antonio Canal, Called Canaletto', until 1987.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
Catalogue of pictures being part of the Clumber Collection, 1872, no. 55, 58, 73, or 74.
A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitons, 1813-1912, I, 1913, pp. 143 and 145, as 'Canaletto'.
W.J. Hipkin, Descriptive catalogue of the Pictures, etc. at Clumber House, London, 1923, no. 36.
W.G. Constable, Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697-1786, II, second edition, Oxford, 1976, pp. 296-297, no. 228 b1, as 'Studio of Canaletto'; 2nd edition, II, revised by J. Links, 1976, pp. 296-7.
J. Ingamells, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Pictures, I, British, German, Italian, Spanish, London, 1985, p. 239, under no. P511, under versions.
(Possibly) London, British Institution 1853, among nos. 98, 103, 113 and 118, all lent by the Duke of Newcastle, as 'Canaletto'.
London, British Institution, 1858, no. 77, as 'Canaletto'.
London, British Institution, 1866, no. 77, as 'Canaletto'.
Nottingham, Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1879, nos. 98, 103, 113 and 118, all lent by the Duke of Newcastle, as 'Canaletto'.
Nottingham, Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1933, as 'Canaletto'.

Brought to you by

Elizabeth Seigel
Elizabeth Seigel Vice President, Specialist, Head of Private and Iconic Collections

Lot Essay

This fine and characteristic early work by Bernardo Bellotto exemplifies the way in which he emerged as one of the major view painters of the eighteenth century in the shadow of his uncle, Canaletto. It is an enlarged version of the picture by Canaletto formerly in the Beauchamp and Bisgood collections. The viewpoint is identical and the architecture and boats correspond very closely, although the nephew’s own powers of expression were already in full evidence.
On the left, in shadow, are the houses on the Fondamenta del Vin running northwards to the Rialto Bridge of 1589-91 by Antonio Da Ponte, which until the nineteenth century was the only bridge across the Grand Canal. Behind the bridge are the two corner bays of the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi and to the right—on the left bank of the canal—the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. To the right of the bridge is the Fondamenta del Ferro with the arcaded façade of Palazzo Dolfin-Manin, designed by Jacopo Sansovino and beside this the bridge over the Rio di San Salvatore, with the edge of Palazzo Bembo ‘framing’ the composition on the extreme right. The view is shown in early afternoon light.
Over the course of his career, Canaletto painted the Rialto seen from the south from several different viewpoints. The most successful of these, to judge from the number of autograph variants, was evidently the one he adopted for the present painting. Although the art historian W.G. Constable gave priority to a dated canvas of 1744, now on deposit at Perigeux (W.G. Constable, op. cit., no. 228), that was certainly not his first view of the Rialto from this position and would seem to have been antedated by four pictures in which the topography corresponds but the boats differ.
In this canvas, Bellotto chose as his model Canaletto's view of the Rialto which was formerly in the Beauchamp and Bisgood collections and later sold with its pendant at Sotheby’s, 3 December 1997, lot 48 (fig. 1; W.G. Constable, op. cit., no. 228 (a) 3) when it was dated about 1740. The young Bellotto characteristically enlarged the composition in scale, but his painting otherwise corresponds almost precisely in topography and also follows his uncle's picture in the number and detail of the boats. In both respects the composition agrees closely with that of the picture in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne which Bozena Anna Kowalczyk (exhibition catalogue, Canaletto e Bellotto, L’ arte della veduta, Milan, 2008, no. 8) considers was painted by Bellotto about 1739, but in which there is less foreground space than in this, the ex-Clumber picture. If it is accepted that the present painting, which is in some respects more sophisticated, was ordered by Lord Lincoln in 1741, it would follow that it is the later of the two.
Close in date to the Bisgood picture is that in the Jacquemart-André Museum, Paris (W.G. Constable, op. cit., no. 228 (a)1). This corresponds with the Bisgood canvas in topography but differs from it completely in the disposition of the boats, of which there are two prominently in the center. It was accurately copied by Antonio Visentini (Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum, 1742, 8, as ‘Pons Rivoalti ad Orientem’). This variant was dated about 1739 by Kowalczyk (exhibition catalogue, Bellotto and Canaletto, Wonder and Light, Milan, 2016-7, no. 5), but about 1740 by Charles Beddington (exhibition catalogue, Venice, Canaletto and his Rivals, London and Washington, 2011, no. 23). Two drawings by Bellotto which correspond with the picture and show the same boats survive, one in a private collection, the other in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam. These were exhibited together at Turin in 2007. Kowalczyk (op. cit., 2008, nos. 5 and 6 and 2016-7, under no. 5) argues that Canaletto’s view was based on these, but it seems more likely to the compiler that Canaletto’s was the prototype. Equally close in topographical terms is the variant in the Galleria Nazionale, Rome (W.G. Constable, op. cit., no. 228 (a) 4), with a single gondola in the center of the canal. This is dated about 1741 by Kowalczyk (op. cit., 2008, no. 8).
A further variant attributable to Canaletto is in the Wallace Collection, London (no. P511; W.G. Constable, op. cit., no. 228 (a) 2): in this also there is a single, but different, gondola in the middle of the canal and the other vessels are also changed. This may have been purchased by Francis Seymour-Conway, 2nd Lord Conway, later 1st Marquess of Hertford (1718-1794) who made the Grand Tour in 1738-9.
The Getty canvas and its pendant Entrance to the Grand Canal (W.G. Constable, op. cit., no. 170 (b)) and two larger pictures, the Piazza San Marco looking West and the Piazzetta looking North (W.G. Constable, op. cit., nos. 28 and 66, the latter now in the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena) which measure 29½ by 46½ inches were acquired by Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 9th Earl of Lincoln, later 2nd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme (1720-1794) who made an extended Grand Tour in 1739-41. In November 1739 when at Turin he met the Hon. Horace Walpole, later 4th Earl of Orford. An intimate friendship developed and the two were together in Venice for five weeks from 5 June 1741. Lincoln was in pursuit of Lady Sophia Fermor, while Walpole was in pursuit of him. They sat for companion portraits to Rosalba Carriera. It is possible that Joseph Smith acted as Lincoln’s agent: he certainly saw Walpole in Venice as a letter of 2 August 1741 to John Chute establishes (Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, London and New Haven, XXXV, 1973, p. 4). A committed Whig himself, he would have extended every facility to the nephew and heir of Thomas, 1st Duke of Newcastle, the Secretary of State, who was travelling with the son of the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, later 1st Earl of Orford: Newcastle exercised a close control over official appointments and was to favor the appointment of a rival to the Consulship in Venice to which Smith aspired, but in the event allowed the latter to be nominated at the wish of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. However, the uneven quality of the Lincoln pictures, of which that now at Pasadena is a masterly work by Canaletto himself, while this canvas is by Bellotto, leads Beddington to suggest that Antonio Maria Zanetti might have acted as agent: in 1762 Walpole told Sir Horace Mann that Zanetti had ‘cheated my father outrageously’ but there is no evidence that they had been in contact (op. cit., V, 1960, p. 562). In the 1872 catalogue the four pictures given to Canaletto are marked with asterisks which indicate that these were listed in the 2nd Dukes posthumous inventory of 1794: 55 and 58 were in the Small Drawing-Room, 73 and 74 in the Small Dining-Room.

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