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Venice, the Piazzetta looking South from the basilica di San Marco with the Biblioteca and a crowd gathered to watch a Commedia dell'arte performance,

Venice, the Piazzetta looking South from the basilica di San Marco with the Biblioteca and a crowd gathered to watch a Commedia dell'arte performance,
oil on canvas
48 ¹/₈ x 63 ¹/₂ in. (122.3 x 161.3 cm.)
Annie Cottenet Schermerhorn (1857-1926), wife of John Innes Kane (1850-1913), by whom bequeathed to the following,
The Cooper Union Museum, New York, by whom sold at the following,
Anonymous sale [The Property of an American Institution]; Sotheby's, London, 26 March 1969, lot 23, as Luca Carlevarijs, (£15,000, to Marshall).
with Colnaghi, London, 1974.
Private collection, Switzerland, by summer 1978.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 16 July 1980, lot 129, as Luca Carlevarijs.
Anonymous sale [The Property of a Gentleman]; Christie's London, 24 May 1991, lot 74 as Luca Carlevarijs, for £451,000, where acquired by the seller at the following,
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 5 July 2017, lot 23, where acquired by the present owner.
R. Palluchini, 'Due Vedute del Carlevarijs', Studi di Storia dell'Arte in onore di Vittorio Viale, Turin, 1967, pp. 52-56, fig. 1, as Luca Carlevarijs.
A. Rizzi, Luca Carlevarijs, Venice, 1967, pp. 63 and 92, fig. 153, as a collaborative work with unspecified collaborator.
R. Palluchini, 'Schede Venete Settecentesche', Arte Veneta, XXV, Venice 1971, pp. 163-64, note 20, as Luca Carlevarijs.
E. Martini, La Pittura del Settecento Veneto, Udine, 1982, p. 489, note 116, as Luca Carlevarijs.
I. Reale, 'Gio. Richter, svezzese, scolare di Luca Carlevariis', Luca Carlevarijs e la veduta veneziana del Settecento, exh. cat., Milan, 1994, pp. 118, 120 and 126, notes 15, 17 and 24, fig. 9, as Johann Richter.
Sarasota, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, An Exhibition of Reflections of The Italian Comedy, 21 January-23 February 1951, no. 17, as Luca Carlevarijs.
Toronto, Art Gallery of Toronto; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada; and Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, 17 October 1964-28 February 1965, Canaletto, no. 131, as Luca Carlevarijs, with catalogue entry by W.G. Constable.
London, Colnaghi, Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, 21 May-22 June 1974, no. 1, as Luca Carlevarijs.
Pfäffikon, Seedamm-Kulturzentrum; and Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, 18 June-5 November 1978, Art vénitien en Suisse et au Liechtenstein, no. 158, as Luca Carlevarijs.

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Lot Essay

This view shows one of the most celebrated sights of Venice, the Piazzetta, looking south, flanked by the Basilica di San Marco on the left and Jacopo Sansovino's Libreria on the right, with the two monumental twin columns on which stand statues of the Lion of Saint Mark and Saint Theodore, Venice’s patron saints.

Like the accompanying canvas, this picture corresponds closely to an engraving after Richter by Bernhard Vogel. It too is extended from the mise-en-scène presented in the engraving, with a further four bays of Sansovino’s Libreria on the right, and an additional two arches of the basilica on the left. Again, the arrangement of the staffage largely corresponds, with a temporary stage set up on the left in front of the Palazzo Ducale before which a throng of figures is gathered, thinning out towards the Libreria, but the specific detail of the figures does not.

Also like the accompanying picture, there is a similar canvas that was also given by Rizzi to Carlevarijs with the help of a collaborator (Rizzi, op. cit., 1967, fig. 157). Though not reproduced by Reale, this too seems very likely by Richter and we can therefore say again that this particular compositional arrangement is exclusive to the Swedish painter. Unlike the view of the Piazzetta looking north-west, however, Carlevarijs did paint the Piazzetta from this precise viewpoint, albeit with different staffage. A painting from a Scottish private collection, which must date to a very similar moment in Richter’s career, was sold at Sotheby’s, London, 9 December 2009, lot 46. It shares a strikingly similar palette and brushwork and must surely have been executed only a short time before or after. Various figures recur, though in some cases with the colour of particular items of clothing changed: the lady seen from behind wearing yellow on top and blue beneath, almost directly between the two columns and talking to a masked gentleman who leans in towards her, can be seen at the left of the principal figure group in the ex-Scottish work, though there she wears a red, rather than a blue skirt.

The engravings by Vogel are labelled, described and identified in four different languages (Latin, Italian, French and German) which is indicative of the wide circulation they were intended to have.

Rizzi (op. cit., 1967) observes that both this and the view of the Piazzetta looking north-west bore the apocryphal signature: 'Antonio Canaletto'.