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Naples, Piazza Trieste e Trento with a fair viewed from a balcony of the Palazzo Reale

Naples, Piazza Trieste e Trento with a fair viewed from a balcony of the Palazzo Reale
oil on canvas
30 x 50 1/4 in. (76 x 127.6 cm.)
Ferdinand IV di Borbone (1751-1825), King of Naples (according a label on the reverse), and by descent to his second wife,
Lucia Migliaccio (1770-1826), Duchessa di Floridia (according a label on the reverse), and by whom gifted to,
'Una dama Napolitana' (A Neapolitan Lady) (according to a label on the reverse), and by whom sold to the following,
(Possibly) Archibald Philip Primrose (1874-1929), 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, for the Villa Rosebery at Posillipo, and by descent to,
Albert Edward Harry Meyer Archibald Primrose (1882-1974), 6th Earl of Rosebery, 2nd Earl of Midlothian, Mentmore; (†) his sale, Sotheby's, on the premises, 25 May 1977, lot 2444, as 'Gaspar van Wittel.'
Santillo collection, Washington.
[The Property of a Gentleman]; Sotheby's, London, 9 December 1992, lot 78,
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
F. Mancini, 'Il 'trucco' urbano: apparati e scenografie tra finzione e realtà,' Civiltà del '700 a Napoli 1734-1799, II, exhibition catalogue, 1979-1980, p. 303.
N. Spinosa, Pittura Napoletana del Settecento dal Rococo al Classicismo, Naples, 1987, pp. 126, 158-159, no. 283, fig. 61.
N. Spinosa and I. Di Manro, Vedute Napoletane del Settecento, Naples, 1989, p. 193, no. 73, fig. 42.
I. Salerno, I Pittori di Vedute in Italia, 1580-1830, Rome, 1991, p. 254, no. 51.
R. Middione, Antonio Joli, Soncino, 1995, p. 104, no. 32, illustrated.
M. Manzelli, Antonio Joli: opere pittorica, Venice, 1999, p. 80, no. 39, fig. 30.
R. Toledano, Antonio Joli: Modena 1700-1777 Napoli, Turin, 2006, pp. 356-357, no. N.XXII, illustrated.
Naples, Castel Sant 'Elmos, All' Ombra del Vesuvio; Napoli nella Venduta Europea dal Quattrocento all' Ottocento, 12 May-29 July 1990, n.n. (entry by M. Utili).

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Joshua Glazer
Joshua Glazer Specialist, Head of Private Sales

Lot Essay

This splendid canvas by Antonio Joli is a significant record of his position as court painter to King Charles III of Spain in eighteenth-century Naples. Joli was one of the most accomplished and widely traveled Italian view painters of the era, capable of summoning atmosphere and describing topographical detail across a glittering career that took him to Venice, London, Madrid and Naples. It was in the latter that he achieved perhaps his most notable success, painting views of the city and its coastline, as well as documenting Bourbon court life through his pictures and becoming a central figure in the organization of royal ceremonies.
‌This picture almost certainly shows the architectural design for the fair held in Naples in 1763, the first of a series of yearly fairs introduced by King Charles III that took place in the gardens of the Palazzo Reale. They formed part of his ambitious program to develop the decorative arts, where exhibitors were encouraged to show their wares in temporary structures. It achieved notable success, and would continue to be held in the grounds of the palace until 1773 when it moved to the Piazza del Castello.
‌A key inscription on the back of the lining canvas, which probably dates from the nineteenth century and was likely copied from the original canvas, identifies the subject: ‘Prospetto d’avanti il Rt Palazzo di / Napoli e della Fiera, che ivi si / suol fare in ognianno dipinto / dal Balcone Reale nel 1763 / Da Wanvitelli.’ There is also a further inscription on a label affixed to the back of the lining: ‘Il presente quadro fu dipinto da / Luigi Vanvitelli, e regalato dal / Re Ferdinando Quarto alla Prin / cipessa Partanna questa lo / regalò ad una Dama Napleta / na, e da questa venduto’. The inscription mistakenly attributes the picture to Luigi Vanvitelli, the son of Gaspar Van Wittel, to whom the picture was in fact given when it was sold in 1977. There has, however, been complete agreement in subsequent publications that it is instead by Joli, whose key role in the 1763 fair was indeed documented in an announcement in the Gazzetta Napoletana on 5 July of that year, shortly after Joli had been appointed as the chief scenographer at the Teatro San Carlo.
‌It has been suggested that, despite the relatively grand scale, this canvas may have served as a bozzetto for the decoration of the 1763 fair, with the picture presented by Joli to the royal committee for approval. His design appears to draw inspiration from the renowned gardens of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, near Segovia, which he would have known from his tenure at the Spanish court from 1750-54. The entrance to the fair, seen lower center, is flanked by two sculptures of Hercules, welcoming visitors and sending them along the central promenade. There, the main square is divided by two fountains, which represent, on the right, Perseus and Andromeda and, on the left, The Expulsion of the Moors from Spain. The fountains are surrounded by elaborately decorated arcades, with booths housing all manner of fine and decorative arts, the whole scene a showcase for a thriving culture of craftsmanship and artistic expression under Bourbon rule.

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