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FRANCESCO BATTAGLIOLI (Modena c. 1717-c. 1796) and GIUSEPPE ZAIS ( Forno di Canale, nr. Belluno 1709-1781 Treviso)
FRANCESCO BATTAGLIOLI (Modena c. 1717-c. 1796) and GIUSEPPE ZAIS ( Forno di Canale, nr. Belluno 1709-1781 Treviso)

An architectural capriccio of classical buildings with horsemen and other figures

Details
FRANCESCO BATTAGLIOLI (Modena c. 1717-c. 1796) and GIUSEPPE ZAIS ( Forno di Canale, nr. Belluno 1709-1781 Treviso)
An architectural capriccio of classical buildings with horsemen and other figures
oil on canvas
70½ x 100 in. (179.1 x 276.9 cm.)
Provenance
Sir Sidney Medley Waterlow (1822-1906), Lord Mayor of London.
His widow, Margaret Hamilton Waterlow (1874-1931), and by descent to her granddaughter,
Barbara Ford, from whom purchased by the present owners.
Sale Room Notice
Please note the following additional provenance:
Sir Sidney Medley Waterlow (1822-1906), Lord Mayor of London.
His widow, Margaret Hamilton Waterlow (1874-1931), and by descent to her granddaughter,
Barbara Ford, from whom purchased by the present owners.

Lot Essay

We are grateful to Dott. Dario Succi for confirming the attribution to Francesco Battaglioli for the architecture and for suggesting the attribution to Giuseppe Zais for the figures (verbal communication, 13 November 2001).

Born in Modena, Battaglioli is thought to have first studied under Raffaello Rinaldi (active 1713-1747?), a local artist, and between 1747 and 1751 he was enrolled in the Fraglia Veneziana, where he met the leading vedutisti of the time. In 1754 he went to Madrid to work at the court of Ferdinand VI, where he painted theatre sets for the royal palaces in Aranjuez and Madrid. Other patrons there included the famous castrato Farinelli (1705-1782), under whose supervision he painted stage sets for Pietro Metastasio's opera La Nitteti (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid). During his time in Spain, he also painted a number of vedute, including four of the castle of Villaviciosa de Odon (Vanderbilt Museum, Centerport, New York) and two views of the royal palace at Aranjuez commissioned by Farinelli (signed and dated 1756; Museo del Prado, Madrid). Following the death of Ferdinand VI in 1759, Battaglioli returned to Italy. In 1772 he was nominated a member of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice and six years later he succeeded Antonio Visentini as a professor of perspective at the Accademia, a position he held until 1789.

Dr. Succi (verbal communication, 4 December 2001) dates the present work to the 1760s, that is after the artist's return from Spain. Succi has suggested (D. Succi, Francesco Battaglioli, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Capricci veneziani del Settecento, Gorizia, 1988, pp. 265 ff.), that it was at this time that Battaglioli began to use leading figurative artists for the staffage in his compositions, such as Gaspare Diziani (two capriccios, Palazzo Labia, Venice; ibid., p. 267, figs. 10-11) and Francesco Zugno (a pair of capriccios with classical buildings, private collection, Milan, ibid., pp. 268-269, figs. 13-14). In the present work the figures are by Giuseppe Zais (1709-1781), working here in a style close to that of Francesco Simonini (1686-c. 1755), the Parmese artist best known for his battle scenes.

Despite the architectural detail and precision evident in many of Battaglioli's compostions, none of the buildings appears to be identifiable. In the present work, the arrangement of the windows of the upper two storeys in the large palace on the right may have been inspired by Vicenzo Scamozzi's Procuratie Nuove in Saint Mark's Square, while its curved roof resembles that of the Basilica in Vicenza. The landscape in the background recalls the hills of the Prealpi between Vicenza and Vittorio Veneto.
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