Marieschi at Castle Howard
The following two lots, painted as companion pictures, are from the series of canvases by Marieschi that formed part of the remarkable collection of views of Venice acquired by Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle (1694-1758), for the great house, Castle Howard, to which he had succeeded in 1738.
Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle (1669-1738), heir to great estates in Yorkshire and Cumberland, was a man of considerable ambition and energy. He chose Sir John Vanburgh as the architect of his new mansion, Castle Howard, where work began in 1700 and which was soon recognized to be with Blenheim one of the outstanding achievements of the age. He also employed two distinguished Venetian painters, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini and Marco Ricci, to contribute to the interior. His elder son, Henry, Viscount Morpeth went on the Grand Tour at the conventional age in 1714-1715: after his return, in 1717, he married Lady Frances Spencer, the only child by his first marriage of Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, and half-sister of the Hon. John Spencer. He succeeded as 4th Earl of Carlisle on his father's death in 1738. Later that year, Carlisle set out for Italy with his ailing elder son, Charles, Viscount Morpeth. They were in Venice in November 1738, as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu learned, in Rome in the spring of 1739, in Florence in June and finally sailed from Leghorn in July, returning to England in November. If the purpose of the expedition was to restore Morpeth's health this failed, as he died of a venereal disease contracted in Italy.
Carlisle had inherited a vast house which lacked a commensurate collection of pictures and his second visit to Italy meant that he could take steps to redress this. When in Rome he ordered a series of six architectural capricci from Panini: the painter was being pressed for delivery on 8 July 1740 (Castle Howard Mss; see F. Russell in the exhibition catalogue, The Treasure Houses of Britain, Washington, 1985-6, under nos. 182-183). All six pictures remain at Castle Howard.
Ambitious as Carlisle's commission to Panini was, this was by far outshone by the groups of views of Venice that he assembled for what was later to be known as the Venetian Room at Castle Howard. Carlisle's staunch Whig allegiance may in part explain his interest in views of the monuments of an aristocratic republic: and in projecting a room dominated by Venetian views, referred to in Carlisle's posthumous inventory of 1758 as the 'Blue Caffoy Room' and subsequently known as the Canaletto Room, he was following the example of his wife's half-brother, successively 5th Earl of Sunderland and 3rd Duke of Marlborough, and her half-brother-in-law, John, 4th Duke of Bedford, both of whom had ordered major sequences of views from Canaletto.
Carlisle seems only to have obtained three pictures by Canaletto: the Piazza San Marco and Entrance to the Grand Canal from the Molo, both now at Washington (National Gallery of Art, nos. 1945.15 3 and 4, see E.P. Bowron in D. de Grazia and E. Garberson, Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Washington, 1996, pp. 24-31), and the sublime panorama of the Bacino at Boston. Carlisle must have seen works by Canaletto in England and may well have ordered the Bacino at the time of his visit to Venice. Given the fact that Marieschi had already achieved considerable prominence by 1738 it is possible that the Earl became aware of his work at that time. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was in London in November 1738 and may thus have learned that Carlisle was in Venice from her most regular Italian correspondent, Count Francesco Algarotti, who has been said to have been the intermediary in the purchase of the set of six views by Marieschi - which included the variant of this composition now at Charlottenburg (Toledano, infra, no V.1.d) - which were placed by Frederick the Great at Sans-Souci. But in this context it is more significant that Carlisle acquired at least some of his Venetian views not through Consul Smith, to whom so many Whig patrons turned, but through the antiquary and agent, Antonio Maria Zanetti the elder (1680-1767), who is known to have been an associate of the painter (cf. F. Montecuccoli degli Erri and F. Pedrocco, Michele Marieschi, La vita, l'ambiente, l'opera, Milan, 1999, pp. 66-68 and passim) and who showed his collection of medals to the Earl during his visit to Venice. In the first of a series of letters to Carlisle -- who he subsequently addressed as 'Mon venerable et tres-adorable Mylord'-- written on 3 June 1740, Zanetti states that the Earl had already received a group of pictures of Venice by a painter 'qui est le plus bon homme du monde, et qui en est aussy abil, que Cannalletto, au quel presentment on paye seulement le nom, et la renomée' (Castle Howard Mss. J 12/12/18, first quoted by F. Russell, loc. cit. (erroneously as written by the younger Zanetti) and published in full by D. Scarisbrick, 'Gem Connoisseurship:', The Burlington Magazine, CXXIX, February 1987, p. 96). Zanetti might refer to either Marieschi or Bellotto: eighteen pictures by the former were at Castle Howard, while three by the latter remain in the house, two others by Bellotto formerly in this are known and a further six destroyed in the fire of 1940 were also probably by him (see C. Beddington in the catalogue of the exhibition, Bernardo Bellotto and the Capitals of Europe, Venice and Houston, 2000-2001, p. 50, under no. 3).
A number of Venetian views were sold by George, 9th Earl of Carlisle (1843-1911) who had succeeded his nephew in 1889 and was himself an accomplished landscape painter, but one who as a pupil of Giovanni Costa clearly was out of sympathy with Grand Tour taste. In 1895 he sold two larger pictures given at the time to Canaletto to Colnaghi's: now in the Louvre, these are by Bellotto. Two pairs, or rather paired canvasses, of the same size as those under discussion, were sold to the dealer George Donaldson in 1895 and in 1897, and three more went to Duveen in 1898. This pair were among the eleven Venetian views of the same size that were sold from Castle Howard at Christie's, London, 18 February 1944, lots 10-14. More recently, one of the pairs sold by the 9th Earl were offered in these Rooms, 6 July 2010, lots 42 & 43 (unsold and £1,400,000 respectively).
The first scholar to consider the group of Marieschis from Castle Howard was Professor Darrio Succi, who in 1989 identified four of these, including the following two canvases, as well as The Piazza San Marco with the Basilica, and The Grand Canal at Ca' Corner, all of which had been sold in 1944 (D. Succi, op. cit., pp. 117-118, figs. 112-11; R. Toledano, op. cit., nos. V. 15, 47, 3.b, and 40.a), and which are respectively identifiable with numbers 18, 3, 10 and 7 of the Castle Howard list.
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