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The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking South-East from San Stae to the Fabbriche Nuove di Rialto

The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking South-East from San Stae to the Fabbriche Nuove di Rialto
oil on canvas
18 1/2 x 30 5/8 in. (47 x 77.8 cm.)
(Probably) Joseph Smith, later British Consul, Venice.
Daniel H. Farr, Philadelphia.
Alfred Pillsbury, Minneapolis.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis.
Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York (by 1957).
Acquired in 1959 for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Castagnola, Switzerland.
Private collection, United Kingdom (acquired from the above, circa 1980); sale, Christie's, London, 4 July 1997, lot 120.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
W.G. Constable, Canaletto, Oxford, 1962, vol. II, pp. 290-291 and 606, no. 246(a) (as 'certainly by Canaletto' and datable to '1730 or a little earlier').
L. Puppi, L'opera completa del Canaletto, Milan, 1968, no. 120B.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Castagnola, 1969, vol. I, p. 56, no. 52 and vol. II, p. 274.
J.G. Links, Views of Venice by Canaletto engraved by Antonio Visentini, Toronto and London, 1971, p. 52.
J.G. Links, Canaletto: The Complete Paintings, St. Albans, 1981, p. 44, under no. 120.
E. Martini, La pittura veneziana del Settecento, Udine, 1982, p. 81 (illustrated in color, pl. XX).
A. Corboz, Canaletto. Una Venezia immaginaria, Milan, 1985, vol. II, p. 632, no. P 226.
D. Succi, ed., Canaletto & Visentini: Venezia & Londra, exh. cat., Venice, 1986-1987, pp. 47 and 240, under no. 23 (illustrated, p. 47, fig. 28; where Visentini’s print is erroneously said to be after the Harvey painting (entry by D. Succi)).
A.B. Kowalczyk and M. Da Cortà Fumei, eds., Bernardo Bellotto 1722-1780, exh. cat., Venice and Houston, 2001, p. 78, under no. 11 (entry by C. Beddington).
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Collectie Thyssen-Bornemisza (Schloss Rohoncz): 110 Meesterwerken europese Schilderkunst van de XIVe-XVIIIe eeuw, November 1959-January 1960, no. 98.
Essen, Museum Folkwang, Sammlung Thyssen-Bornemisza: 110 Meisterwerke der europäischen Malerei des 14. Bis 18. Jahrhunderts, January-March 1960, no. 98.
Pfäffikon, Seedamm-Kulturzentrum and Geneva, Musée d'art et d'histoire, Art Vénitien en Suisse et au Liechtenstein, June-November 1978, p. 180, no. 160 (illustrated, p. 39; detail illustrated in color, pl. IX).
Seattle, Experience Music Project, DoubleTake: From Monet to Lichtenstein, April 2006-January 2007.
Portland Art Museum; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; New Orleans Museum of Art and Seattle Art Museum, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, October 2015-May 2017, no. 6 (illustrated in color).
A. Visentini in his Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus Celebriores, Venice, 1742, Part II, no. 5.
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Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

In the course of the second half of the 1730s, Canaletto produced a number of his most important and successful works. Shortly after the middle of the decade he had completed his famous series of twenty-four canvases which remain intact at Woburn Abbey as well as a series of twenty-one pictures painted for the Duke of Marlborough which were dispersed by the Harvey Trustees in 1957. Among the Harvey series was Canaletto’s only other depiction of this view, a work now in a London private collection. Like many of his most successful works, the view is taken from a seldom depicted part of Venice and shows the stretch of the Grand Canal between the church of San Stae (roughly equidistant from the Scalzi and the Rialto) and the bend immediately before the Rialto Bridge.
The composition gained wide dissemination through Antonio Visentini’s series of prints after paintings by Canaletto for the Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum. The prints were, in turn, used as a publicity tool through which the marchand-amateur Joseph Smith, one of Canaletto’s most ardent supporters, advanced the artist’s career, namely by attracting English patrons. The publication was produced in two parts. The first edition, published in 1735, contained prints after fourteen paintings that, as the title-page indicated, were in Smith’s house and which would remain there until 1762. In 1742, twenty-four additional plates were added, most of which had already passed through Smith’s hands, including three pictures from the Woburn series and eight or nine from the Harvey series as well. The painting selected to represent the Grand Canal at San Stae was not the one in the Harvey series but the present work.
Smith’s future residence, the Palazzo Mangili Valmarana, shown before it was remodeled following his acquisition of the property in 1740, can be made out in the distance of the present painting. Little else has changed with this view since Canaletto’s time, save the removal of the picturesque chimneys and sailing vessels and the addition of a vaporetto stop at the Campo San Stae on the right. The most prominent structure is Domenico Rossi’s shimmering white façade of 1709-10 for the church of Sant’ Eustachio, known as San Stae, surmounted by Antonio Corradini’s sculptures of the Redeemer, Faith and Hope. Among the works of art commissioned for the interior of the church were altarpieces by Sebastiano Ricci, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and Giambattista Tiepolo (all in situ). On its far end is the small Scuola of the Gold-Beaters’ Guild of 1711, where the Ponte Giovanelli crosses the Rio di San Stae and leads to the Palazzo Coccina Giunti Foscarini Giovanelli, where Doge Marco Foscarini was born in 1695. The magnificent Ca’ Pesaro, which was designed by Baldassare Longhena, begun in 1652 and today houses the Gallery of Modern Art, is found somewhat farther down the canal. Two small houses are hinted at between Ca’ Pesaro and the equally lavish Palazzo Corner della Regina (1724-7), named after Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, who was born on the site in 1454. In the distance can be seen the Fabbriche Nuove di Rialto, designed by Jacopino Sansovino in 1554 to serve as the seat of the magistrates in charge of all customs and duty, which today houses the Court of Venice. Along the north side of the Grand Canal are equally notable buildings, including, from the left, the Palazzi Barbarigo, Zulian, Ruoda and Gussoni Grimani della Vida. Beyond the Rio di Noale are the Palazzi Boldù Ghisi Contarini and Fontana Rezzonico, with the obelisks.
Comparison with the Harvey painting demonstrates how, despite showing exactly the same stretch of the Canal, Canaletto was able to examine every detail anew and address some of the architectural inaccuracies of his earlier painting. While the viewpoint of the Harvey painting is that of a man standing in a gondola, here Canaletto has raised the viewpoint to something near twenty feet above the water level. This, in turn, necessitated that he shift the angles of all the buildings as far as the middle distance. Similarly, in the present painting Canaletto has successfully rendered the projecting marble panels at the base of the façade of the church and the moldings on the façade of the Scuola of the Gold-Beaters.

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