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Michele Giovanni Marieschi (Venice 1710-1743)

The Courtyard of the Doge's Palace, Venice, with the Scala dei Giganti, Saint Mark's Basilica beyond

Michele Giovanni Marieschi (Venice 1710-1743)
The Courtyard of the Doge's Palace, Venice, with the Scala dei Giganti, Saint Mark's Basilica beyond
oil on canvas
46 5/8 x 71 1/8 in. (118.5 x 180.7 cm.)
in an English composition frame of circa 1775
Field Marshal Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg (1661-1747), by whom acquired from the artist on 20 November 1736 for 50 zecchini ('Contati al Signor Michel Marieschi per il quadro della Corte di Palazzo cecchini cinquanta giusta ricevuta'; see Binion, op. cit., p. 152), and hung in his Venetian residence, the Palazzo Loredan a San Trovaso.
Bequeathed to his nephew, Christian Gunther von der Schulenburg, by whom removed to Hehlen, Germany.
Schulenburg Sale; Christie's, 13 April 1775 (=2nd day), lot 58 'Marieski - A view of the palace at Venice, uncommonly rich and high finished' (59 gns. to [John?] Chapman).
By descent to Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport, M.P., Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield, Cheshire.
His son, William Bromley-Davenport; Christie's, London, 2 July 1976, lot 45 (£55,000).
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 13 December 1996, lot 78, when acquired by the present owner.
Inventario Generale della Galleria di S: Eccellza Felt Marescial Conte di Sculembourgh..., 30 May 1738 'Marieschi - Due Quadri compagni con cornice dorata uno Rappresenta la Corte del Palazzo Ducale di San Marco con tutta la sua Architettura, e statue e con diversi Senatori che vi spasseggiano, l'altro Rappresenta il Ponte Real di Venezia detto Rialto sul Gran Canale in tempo dell'Ingresso del Patriarca di Venezia numerosissimo di Barcolami e Figure - alti 8 lar: 10' (see Binion, op. cit., p. 210).
Inventario Generale della Galleria di S.E. Maresciallo Co: di Schulemburg..., Venice, 30 June 1741 (see Binion, op. cit., p. 234).
Quadri e Ritratti Essistenti nelle differenti Camere del Palazzo del Defonto Eccelentissimo Maresciallo, Venice, August 1747 (see Binion, op. cit., p. 248).
Inventaire de la Gallerie de Feu S.e. Mgr. le Feldmarechal Comte de Schulenburg: Des tableaux à Hehlen, before 1774 and possibly as early as 1750 (see Binion, op. cit., p. 285).
E. Antoniazzi Rossi, 'Ulteriori considerazioni sull'inventario della collezione del maresciallo von Schulenburg', Arte Veneta, XXXI, 1977, p. 129.
F. Haskell, Patrons and Painters. A Study in the Relations between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque, ed., New Haven and London, 1980, p. 314.
D. Succi, 'Vedute e Capricci Veneziani del Settecento nella Galleria di Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg', in the catalogue of the exhibition Capricci Veneziani del Settecento, Castello di Gorizia, June-Oct. 1988, p. 95, fig. 11.
R. Toledano, Michele Marieschi, L'opera completa, Milan, 1988, p. 68, under no. V.4.1.
D. Succi, 'Al Servizio del Feldmaresciallo von Schulenburg', in the catalogue of the exhibition, Marieschi, tra Canaletto e Guardi, Castello di Gorizia, 30 June-15 October 1989, p. 90, figs. 87-8.
E. Mijnlieff, Michele Marieschi, in La pittura in Italia: Il Settecento, Milan, 1990, II, p. 783.
A. Binion, La Galleria scomparsa del maresciallo von der Schulenburg, Milan, 1990, pp. 119, 122, note 11, 152, 210, 234, 248, 285 and 295.
M. Manzelli, Michele Marieschi e il suo alter-ego Francesco Albotto, Venice, 1991, p. 75, pl. A.4.2, incorrectly attributed to Albotto.
G. Knox, 'Four Canaletti for the Duke of Bolton and two "Aide-memoire"', Apollo, CXXXVIII, no. 380 (New Series), October 1993, p. 249.
R. Toledano, Michele Marieschi. Catalogo ragionato, 2nd ed., Milan, 1995, p. 56, no. V.4.b, illustrated.
F. Pedrocco, 'Luca Carlevarijs e Michele Marieschi', in the catalogue of the exhibition Splendori del Settecento Veneziano, Venice, 26 May-30 July 1995, p. 261.
F. Pedrocco, Canaletto and the Venetian Vedutisti, Antella and New York, 1995, p. 58.
E.W. Rowlands, The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Italian Paintings 1300-1800, Kansas City and Seattle, 1996, p. 372.
E. Garberson in The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue: Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Washington, 1996, pp. 335 and 339, note 13.
F. Montecuccoli degli Erri and F. Pedrocco, Michele Marieschi, La vita, l'ambiente, l'opera, Milan, 1999, pp. 299-300, no. 78, illustrated.
F. Pedrocco, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Canaletto, Venezia e i suoi splendori, Treviso, 23 October 2008-5 April 2009, p. 273, under no. 49.
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Lot Essay

This documented masterpiece by Marieschi was first studied in detail by Charles Beddington in the catalogue entry for the 1996 sale in these Rooms. The following paragraphs are drawn from this, and material changes to his entry are set in square brackets.

Marieschi has been re-established among the great Venetian vedutisti of the eighteenth century. Attention has increasingly been drawn to this picture as one of his masterpieces and as one of the few large scale canvases he painted during his brief career. Its potential significance was further emphasized by Dario Succi's proposed identification of it (rather than a second version, for which see below) as the picture of this subject executed for Field Marshal Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg (1661-1747) and included in the Schulenburg Sale at Christie's in 1775. This was confirmed in 1996 when it was recognised that the frame is of a type made in London in the 1770s. A frame of identical pattern is on a Luca Giordano Finding of Moses bought at the Schulenburg Sale (2nd day, lot 63) by John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset and still at Knole. Others are on a group of pictures reframed c. 1772/4 for John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute for Luton Park, including the Circle of Rubens Christ in the House of Simon the Pharisee and the copy of Veronese's Wisdom and Fortitude sold from the Bute Collection in these Rooms, 9 December 1994, lots 24 and 343; the former was purchased at Christie's in 1772. [For details of such frames on pictures formerly at Luton see F. Russell, John, 3rd Earl of Bute, Patron and Collector, London, 2004, p. 192). Whether the frame on this picture was run up for James Christie before the sale, or supplied for John (?) Chapman, who was a regular buyer in the mid-1770s, cannot be established].

Schulenburg was, with Consul Smith, the greatest foreign patron of painters and collector of pictures resident in Venice in the eighteenth century. A professional soldier of Saxon origin who had fought in most of the great European wars of his time, Schulenburg's defence of Corfu against the Turks in 1715 and 1716 had made him a hero to the Venetians, who erected a statue in his honour and granted him a life pension. He decided to retire to Venice and established himself at Palazzo Loredan near San Trovaso. There, in 1724, at the age of sixty-three, he found himself in possession of a group of eighty-eight paintings, mainly from the collections of the Dukes of Mantua, which were ceded to him by a dealer named Giovanni Battista Rota who had defaulted on a loan. This awakened in the Marshal a voracious appetite for collecting and in the remaining two decades of his life he amassed over nine hundred pictures. Ably assisted by his advisors, first Pittoni and then Piazzetta, Schulenburg acquired works by almost all the leading Venetian painters of his day. His purchases accelerated in the 1730s and in 1735 he began to send regular shipments of paintings back to his estates in Germany. A bachelor, he bequeathed the whole of his vast collection to his nephew with the request that it be preserved intact, but about 150 pictures, including many of the finest, were sent at Christie's in 1775.

Schulenburg's activities as a patron and collector are particularly well documented by papers now in the Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv at Hanover. Thus the identification of the present picture as from his collection makes it one of the most fully documented of all Venetian vedute. The records establish it as the earlier of only two precisely datable works in Marieschi's oeuvre, a much-needed starting point for an understanding of his development. Indeed, since the other datable painting was also executed for Schulenburg (see below), they provide us with almost everything we know about Marieschi's patrons, the dating of his works and the prices he was able to charge.

The documents reveal that Schulenburg paid Marieschi the substantial sum of fifty zecchini for this painting on 20 November 1736. Evidently pleased with his acquisition, the Marshal subsequently went on to acquire no fewer than eleven more works by the artist. Of those the only one of comparable importance to this picture is the 'veduta di Rialto' paid for on 20 April 1737 and recorded in the inventory dated 30 May 1738 hanging as the pendant to this picture. It had already been transported to Germany, however, the month before the completion of the inventory. Also included in the 1775 sale, Toledano (op. cit., 1988, p. 82, no. V.11, illustrated) was the first to suggest its identification with a picture owned by the National Trust, now to Osterley Park, which, long attributed to Canaletto, had been restored to Marieschi by St. John Gore (in the catalogue of the exhibition Souvenirs of the Grand Tour, Wildenstein, London, 20 October-1 December 1982, p. 27, no. 33, fig. 31). The identification was supported by Dario Succi (op. cit., 1989, pp. 91-2, fig. 89; see also D. Succi, 'L'ingresso del patriarca Correr documentato da Marieschi', in the catalogue of the exhibition Luca Carlevarijs e la veduta veneziana del Settecento, Palazzo della Ragione, Padua, 25 September-26 December 1994, pp. 74-8, fig. 12).

This picture remained at the Palazzo Loredan, where at the time of the Marshal's death it was hanging in the entrance hall as the pendant to one of Canaletto's greatest masterpieces, The Riva degli Schiavoni, looking West from S. Biagio, now in Sir John Soane's Museum, London, for which the artist had received a considerable, though not quite final, payment on 23 February 1736. The two paintings must have arrived at the Palazzo Loredan at almost the same time, and this is the only documented occasion on which Marieschi found himself in more or less direct competition with Canaletto. Although relative cost may have had something to do with it, Schulenburg never acquired another work by Canaletto and Marieschi instantly became his favoured painter of views and capricci.

This view of the courtyard of the Doge's Palace is a subject which Marieschi made very much his own. It had been treated in engravings by Luca Carlevarijs, in his Fabriche e vedute di Venetia... published in 1703, and by Domenico Lovisa, in his Gran Teatro di Venezia... published in 1720 (see A. Corboz, Canaletto. Una Venezia immaginaria, Milan, 1985, I, p. 227, figs. 278-9), but no earlier paintings of it are known. It is one of the few significant Venetian views which did not become part of the standard repertoire of Canaletto, who only executed one small picture of it late in his career (ibid., pp. 225-6, figs. 276-7). Marieschi not only made an engraving of the view from a slightly different viewpoint, published in his Magnificentiores Selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus (ibid., p. 227, fig. 280) but also painted a second version, now owned by the National Trust and now hung with the Schulenburg Rialto at Osterley Park (see, for instance, Toledano, op. cit., 1995, p. 56, no. V.4.a, illustrated). This painting would, indeed, seem to be the only one of the few large scale works the artist produced during Marieschi's brief career which he considered worthy of repetition, [and its exceptional quality does not, prima facie, lend support to Pedrocco's suggestion (2008-9) that Schulenburg may have been supplied with a replica].

[There are numerous small distinctions between the two pictures. The clouds are very different; the Osterley picture omits the timber resting on the second chimney from the right and in that the shutter above the opening behind the parapet on the right falls forward; and scaffolding is in place on the boys to the right of the Scala d'Oro. There are additional figures in the Osterley picture, notably a group of four on the right and others in the westernmost section in sunlight and in shadow on the left and on the steps].

A large picture of the same view in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., identified by Succi as by Antonio Joli and as showing the arrival of the Papal Ambassador Francesco Stopani in 1741, was clearly inspired by one of Marieschi's depictions of the view (D. Succi, Antonio Joli e Gaspare Diziani per l'ingresso del Nunzio Apostolico Stopani nel 1741, in op. cit., 1994, pp. 81-5). Joli would almost certainly have known the Schulenburg picture as he himself had worked for the Field Marshal in 1735-6.

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