These exceptional paintings, which mark a high point in Marieschi's production of views on this scale, have never surfaced on the market or been publicly exhibited, which has no doubt contributed to their excellent state of preservation. Toledano, op. cit., 1995, dates them to circa 1737, by comparison with The Grand Canal with the Rialto Bridge from the North and the Arrival of the Patriarch Antonio Correr, 7 February 1735 in the collection of the National Trust at Osterley, for which payment was made by Marshal von der Schulenburg on 20 April 1737 (his no. V.II). Pedrocco, op. cit., who does not accept the identification of the Osterley picture as that painted for Schulenburg, does, however, agree on the stylistic similarities between it and the present pair and dates all three to circa 1735. He further points out that the marble architectural fragments shown in the Campo San Marcuola in the left foreground of the second painting must be related to the work on the construction of a façade designed by Giorgio Massari for the church and begun in 1728; this was terminated in 1736, leaving the façade unfinished, which would seem to provide a terminus ante quem for the execution of these views.
It has not previously been observed that the two paintings are recorded as early as May 1738 in an inventory of the collection of Sir John Brownlow, Bt., 1st Viscount Tyrconnel, in his house in Arlington Street, St. James's, London. They are thus among the few paintings by Marieschi of which the first owner can be identified with certainty. Brownlow had succeeded his father as 5th baronet in 1701, at the age of ten, and made a brief Grand Tour of Italy in the company of his governor T. Latreille between December 1710 and July 1711 (see J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 compiled from the Brinsley Ford Archive, New Haven and London, 1997, p. 142). He arrived in Venice on 5 December for the carnival and is next recorded in Rome the following April. After his return he married his cousin Eleanor Brownlow in 1712, and the following year was elected a Member of Parliament, a position he was to hold until 1741. After a period of financial difficulties circa 1715-17, Brownlow's fortunes improved and he became better able to satisfy his appetite for pomp and show. He was elevated to the Irish peerage as Viscount Tyrconnel in 1718 and created one of the first new knights of the recently revived Order of the Bath in 1725. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1735 and a Fellow for the Society of Antiquities in 1740.
Tyrconnel may have been inspired by memories of his Grand Tour to aquire a small group of views of Venice, which also included an exceptional pair of Grand Canal views by Canaletto, also of circa 1735. The Grand Canal, Venice, looking East from the Campo di San Vio, sold at Christie's, New York, 27 January 2000, lot 30 (W.G. Constable, Canaletto, London, 1962, no. 185), was accompanied until the sale of both paintings from Belton in 1956 by a pendant showing The Grand Canal, looking South-West from the Rialto Bridge to the Palazzo Foscari (op. cit., no. 222), last recorded at Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1979, lot 10. That pair is recorded in the same inventories of the paintings at Arlington Street, and subsequently Belton, as are the present views. By the time of Mr. Patch's inventory of circa 1779 all four pictures were believed to be by Canaletto. The correct attribution of the present paintings had already been confused in the 1754 inventory, in which they are described as the work of 'Marieski & Chenerole'. This must be a reference to Giovanni Battista Cimaroli, who, though now largely forgotten, was one of the leading rivals of Canaletto and Marieschi in the production of Venetian views. These paintings, however, reveal no trace of his distinctive style and are entirely characteristic of Marieschi, both in the buildings and in the figures.
This view of The Doge's Palace and the Molo from the Bacino di San Marco was one of Marieschi's most popular compositions. The artist himself executed an etching of it, plate 6 in his Magnificentiores Selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus published in 1741, and four painted variants, with different boats and figures, are known (Pedrocco, op. cit., nos. 14, 28, 82 and 110). Only one other version of The Grand Canal with the Fondaco dei Turchi from the campo San Marcuola is, however, known, that acquired by Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle, who was in Venice in 1738-39, and now in a Milanese private collection (op. cit., no. 32).
We are grateful to Charles Beddington for preparing this entry.