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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection

View of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine

View of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine
signed ‘G.P. PANINI’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
24 x 39 3/4 in. (61 x 101 cm.)
Painted circa 1745
[Monsieur et Madame B.]; sale, Audap-Picard-Solanet & Associes, Paris, 13 June 1997, lot 77.
Mitchell-Innes and Nash, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner in 1998.
Portland, Portland Art Museum; Washington, The Phillips Collection; Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts; New Orleans, New Orleans Museum of Art and Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, 10 October 2015-21 May 2017, no. 8 (illustrated in color).
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Lot Essay

Giovanni Paolo Panini was the foremost painter of vedute in Rome in the middle decades of the eighteenth century. He trained in his native Piacenza under the quadraturisti Giuseppe Natali and Andrea Galluzzi, from whom he mastered perspective, and the set designer Francesco Galli Bibiena, from whom he learned to stage his compositions for optimal dramatic effect. In 1711, he settled in Rome. Panini rapidly became one of the most successful painters in the Eternal City, obtaining the patronage of leading collectors like Pope Innocent XIII, for whom he decorated the mezzanine apartment of the Palazzo Quirinale in 1742-43, and the connoisseur and French ambassador to Rome, Etienne François, Duc de Choiseul.
Panini’s mature vedute betray the influence of a variety of sources. Like Gaspare Vanvitelli, the leading Roman vedutista of an earlier generation, Panini favored the depiction of minute details. Further influences can be found in the work of Salvator Rosa, whose lively figures inspired Panini’s spirited approach to his own staffage, here contemporary aristocratic figures. And, unlike his great Venetian contemporary Canaletto, whose works are often topographically accurate depictions, like Giovanni Ghisolfi, Panini frequently favored imaginative capricci of famous monuments.
The present painting, which was unknown to Ferdinando Arisi, is a particularly fine example of a compositional schema that Panini appears to have first developed in the mid-1730s with works like his depictions of the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine dated 1734 and 1735, today in the Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery and Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, respectively (see F. Arisi, Gian Paolo Panini e I fasti della Roma del ‘700, Rome, 1986, nos. 226 and 233). Characteristic of these paintings is their horizontal format with the Colosseum viewed from the southwest at left and the Arch of Constantine – viewed either frontally, as it would have appeared topographically, or from the side – at right. Architectural fragments, figures and classical sculpture (here the Farnese Hercules) populate the foreground, while foliage or further ruins serve as repoussoir devices that frame the scene. Rather intriguingly, the horseman at the well visible among the group of figures at right is quoted from a painting by Michelangelo Cerquozzi in the Corsini collection, which Panini knew through his activity retouching some of the paintings in the collection. Particularly close parallels can be drawn between the present painting and two similar views by Panini in Spencer House, London, and the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, datable to 1745 and 1747, respectively (for the painting in Baltimore, see Arisi, op. cit., no. 377).
We are grateful to Professor David R. Marshall for endorsing the attribution on the basis of photographs and for his assistance cataloguing this lot.

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