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THE PROPERTY OF A MEMBER OF THE VON DER SCHULENBURG FAMILY
(Lots 169 and 170)
Born into a Saxon family closely related to the Hanoverian dynasty, Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg (1661-1747) chose a military career and served in most of the great wars of Europe of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, fighting for the Austrians in the Hungarian campaign against the Turks, 1687-8, for the House of Savoy, for Augustus the Strong of Saxony against Charles XII of Sweden, and in the Wars of the Spanish Succession, leading the infantry under the command of Prince Eugene at Malplaquet. His brilliant defence of Corfu against superior Turkish forces in 1715 and 1716 earned him the admiration of Europe, and particularly of the Venetians, in whose employ he was to remain for thirty years. He established himself in Venice at the Palazzo Loredan, San Trovaso, and in 1724, at the age of sixty-three, began to collect art, buying from a dealer, Giovanni Battista Rota, eighty-eight paintings, most of which were formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Mantua. He subsequently became one of the most energetic patrons and collectors of his day, acquiring works by almost all of the leading Venetian artists and amassing in the following two decades over nine hundred paintings, which he began in 1735 to send back in crates to his German estates. About 150 pictures were sold at Christie's on 12-13 April 1775, but a large group remained together at Hanover until the 1980s (many pictures have been included in London sales since 23 June 1982) and the collection is very well documented in the Hanover archives (for general accounts of Schulenburg's activities as a collector, see F. Haskell, Patrons and Painters. Art and Society in Baroque Italy, New Haven and London, 1980, pp. 310-15, and A. Binion, La Galleria scomparsa del maresciallo von der Schulenburg. Un mecenate nella Venezia del Settecento, Venice, 1990).