The section of the composition to the right of the barge corresponds closely, also in colour and with only minor variations, with Canaletto’s painting in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (recently exhibited Aix-en-Provence, Centre d’Art Caumont, Canaletto, 2015, pp. 78-9, no. 8, illustrated in colour, where dated to c. 1727). This is a unique instance of Albotto apparently having access to an unengraved work by Canaletto, presumably still in a Venetian collection.
The style is identical, also in the very liquid treatment of the barge’s sail, to that of another version of the composition generally considered the work of Albotto, a painting of similar size in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch at Bowhill (M. Manzelli, Michele Marieschi e il suo alter-ego Francesco Albotto, 2nd ed., Venice, 2002, p. 127, no. A.36.02, illustrated in colour).
Count Otto Thott formed the largest Danish art collection of his time. Over 3,000 pictures are recorded at his palace in Copenhagen (now the French embassy) and his country house on Gaunø island, which he had restored and rebuilt in 1755 largely to accommodate the works he had collected since his youth. Although partly dispersed in a posthumous sale in 1787, a core of the collection which included this view, remained at Gaunø until two notable sales at Christie’s on 2 and 9 July 1976. Thott was a remarkable figure of the Danish Enlightenment; in addition to his public career as minister of state and his collecting of pictures, he achieved distinction as a bibliophile, becoming one of the greatest Danish private book collectors of his time. Having acquired most of the books of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford, Thott amassed a library of 138,000 volumes by the time of his death in 1785. Of these, 4,154 manuscripts and 6,159 early printed books, including 1,500 volumes of incunabula, were bequeathed to the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen.
We are grateful to Charles Beddington for proposing the attribution to Albotto after inspection of the original and for his assistance with this catalogue entry.