ANTONIO JOLI (MODENA C. 1700-1777 NAPLES)
ANTONIO JOLI (MODENA C. 1700-1777 NAPLES)
ANTONIO JOLI (MODENA C. 1700-1777 NAPLES)
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ANTONIO JOLI (MODENA C. 1700-1777 NAPLES)

A capriccio with the French Ambassador approaching the King of Siam’s Palace in a state barge, in October 1685, featuring the White Porcelain Pagoda, from Nanjing, China, on the left

Details
ANTONIO JOLI (MODENA C. 1700-1777 NAPLES)
A capriccio with the French Ambassador approaching the King of Siam’s Palace in a state barge, in October 1685, featuring the White Porcelain Pagoda, from Nanjing, China, on the left
oil on canvas
44 1/2 x 58 in. (113 x 147.3 cm.)
Provenance
(Probably) Sir John C.E. Shelley Rolls (1871-1951); (†), James Harris & Son, Winchester, 24 July 1951, lot 535.
Anonymous sale; Palais Galliera, Paris, 26 May 1963, lot 1.
Anonymous sale; Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, Hotel George V, 29 June 1988, lot 14.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 4 July 1990, lot 11,
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
Literature
R. Middione, Antonio Joli, Soncino, 1995, p. 54, no. 5, illustrated.
M. Manzelli, Antonio Joli: Opera Pittorica, Venice, 1999, p. 128, C. 13.
R. Toledano, Antonio Joli: Modena 1700-1777 Napoli, Turin, 2006, pp. 282-283, no. V.V.IX.1, illustrated.
Exhibited
San Francisco, Asian Art Museum, A Curious Affair, the Fascination Between East and West, 17 June-3 September 2006, unnumbered.

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Lot Essay

This orientalist capriccio, which has been described as ‘uno dei più singolari prodotti del modenese’ (‘one of the most singular products of the Modenese artist’, R. Middione, op. cit.), was almost certainly painted during Joli’s time in London. The most widely travelled of the great view painters of the eighteenth century, Joli was the only Italian view-painter of note to work in England both before and during Canaletto’s visit; both artists were patronized by the Duke of Richmond.
Joli arrived in London from Venice by way of Dresden in 1743/4 and left for Madrid in 1749/50. Between 1744 and 1748, he is recorded as a painter of theatrical scenery and possibly also assistant manager at the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket. He also executed a number of decorative schemes, notably that which survives in the hall of the Richmond home of the theatre’s manager, John James Heidegger, a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to George III, showing views around the world (E. Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, Feltham, 1970, II, p. 226, pls. 35-6). Joli’s period in London gave him a good understanding of English taste in Art and ensured him extensive patronage from British Grand Tourists after his return to Italy in 1754.
It is not known for whom this painting was executed, however Ralph Toledano (op. cit.) speculates that it may have been for an erudite patron such as George Grenville Nugent Temple, Marquis of Buckingham, since a ‘View of Pekin, by Jolli’ is recorded in J. Seeley’s 1797 Description of the House and Gardens at Stowe. Toledano further comments that it would fit perfectly with the English exotic taste for the Orient. The subject of the painting is the arrival of Louis XIV’s ambassador in the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1685. The Siamese King, Phra Narai, had sent ornate royal barges to carry the ambassador and his entourage up the Chao Phraya River (which Westerners called the ‘Menam’ River – the Thai word for ‘river’). The diplomatic mission to convert King Narai to Catholicism, establish trade agreements and French supremacy in the region ended in failure, however, as the king’s minister Constantine Phaulkon was brutally murdered, Narai was overthrown by a formidable tyrant, Phetracha, and relations between the two countries collapsed.
For the general composition, as well as the specific details of the Siamese barges and buildings, Joli relied on two prints (figs. 1 and 2) published by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in his A plan of civil and historical architecture in there presentation of the most noted buildings of foreign nations (Leipzig, 1725). The majority of the composition, excluding the prominent Pagoda, relies on plate X - ‘Vue de la Residence du Roi de Siam avec l’entrée magnifique de l’Ambassadeur de France laquelle se fit sure le Menam avec 150 Balons ou navires d’état à la Siamoise, l’an 1685 au mois d’Octobre’ - in volume III (Plates describing the buildings of the Arabians, Turks etc., and from Modern ones of the Persians, Siamese, Chinese and Japanese). The magnificent Pagoda to the left was taken from plate XI of the same volume, which was entitled ‘La fameuse Pagode près de Nanking, avec ses parois, mausolées, allées, bains et la magnifique Tour de Porcellaine à neuf étage’. Nine stories high and covered in white porcelain tiles, the famous Pagoda, which was erected in 1407 in the plain near Nanjing in China and destroyed during the rebellions of Tai ping (between 1850 and 1864), was known as one of the wonders of the world in the mid-eighteenth century.

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