fig.1
Canaletto

Canaletto’s Bacino di S. Marco (fig. 1), acquired through the Felton Bequest in 1986, can be a problematic painting, both in terms of what we know about it and our response. In the popular mind it is an untypical work, different in size and conception from those postcard-like series of views of Venice (the Woburn Abbey set of twenty-four is a prime example)1 See W. G. Constable & J. G. Links, Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal. 1697–1768, Oxford and New York, 1976, cat. no. 4, pp. 188–9 (1731). that from one perspective seem to be more ‘characteristic’ Canalettos. There is also a lingering critical distaste for the kind of technique Canaletto employs here, frequently described as mechanical, but better termed ‘graphic’, that goes back to John Ruskin, who commented:

[T]he mannerism of Canaletto … gives the buildings neither their architectural beauty nor their ancestral dignity, for there is no texture of stone nor character of age in Canaletto’s touch; which is invariably a violent, black, sharp, ruled penmanlike line, as far removed from the grace of nature as from her faintness and transparency.2 J. Ruskin, Modern Painters, Volume I, Containing Parts I. and II of General Principles, and Truth, Orpington, Kent, 1888, vol. 1, pp. 109–10. Admittedly this passage refers to a somewhat earlier phase of Canaletto’s career, when the lines are blacker.

This is exemplified by the critical elevation of the London Stonemason’s yard, 1725, above the bulk of his production for its Vermeer-like painterly response to site.3 For a description of the Stonemason’s yard see Constable & Links, p.107; A. Bettagno & B. A. Kowalczyk, Canaletto Prima Maniera, Milan, 2001, p. 136. Constable’s characterisation of the painting as a fusion of Canaletto’s two approaches, the picturesque mode of his early work and the drier, topographical mode developed for the Grand Tour market from about 1727, needs to be modified in view of Kowalczyk’s redating of the painting from Constable’s c.1729–30 and Levey’s 1726–30 to 1725, on topographical grounds: the canonico of the church at S. Vidal, visible in the left foreground, was demolished beginning 17 August 1725. (Kowalczyk, ‘I Canaletto della National Gallery di Londra’, Art Veneta, vol. 53, no. 2, 1998, pp. 72–99; Bettagno & Kowalczyk, in Canaletto Prima Maniera, p. 136. But looked at in its proper context, Bacino di S. Marco may be seen in a different light. That context is its original installation at Farnborough Hall in Warwickshire (fig. 2), alongside antique busts and views of Rome by Giovanni Paolo Panini, and extends to the palazzi of Rome and Venice in the 1720s and 1730s, the Grand Tour and English interior decoration around 1750.

Farnborough Hall is the seat of the Holbech family. The house and estate passed to the National Trust in 1960, followed by the principal contents in 1986 and 1988, and is still the home of Mr and Mrs Geoffrey Holbech. In 1717 it was inherited by William Holbech (c.1699–1771), who remodelled the house in about 1746–47 by creating a saloon, now the dining room, at the back of the house. This room and the entrance hall, staircase, library and closet were stuccoed in 1750 by William Perritt of York and a bill for this work dated 14 November 1750 survives.4 G. Beard, Decorative Plasterwork in Great Britain, London, 1975, p. 233; J. Cornforth, ‘Farnborough Hall, Warwickshire – II: A property of the National Trust and the home of Mr and Mrs Geoffrey Holbech’, Country Life, vol. 190, no. 29, 1996, pp. 50–3. The staircase and hall (fig. 3) are furnished with antique busts, some of which were acquired from the Roman dealer Belisario Amidei in 1745, and the hall had an overmantel by Panini.5 I. Hiller, ‘Geschichte des Hauses und der Skulpturensammlung’, in Di Antiken Skulpturen in Farnborough Hall, sowie in Althorp House, Blenheim Palace, Lyme Park und Penrice Castle, A. Scholl, Mainz, 1995, pp. 35–6. See also J. Scott, The Pleasures of Antiquity British Collectors of Greece and Rome, New Haven and London, 2003, note 38, p. 297.The dining room (fig. 4) was decorated with four Canalettos and two Paninis, one of which was an overmantel. The paintings were removed in 1929 (and sold to Savile Gallery),6 G. Holbech, in conversation with the author, indicated that all were sold to the one dealer, Savile Gallery. who arranged for their replacement with poor copies painted by one Mohammed Ayoub,7 E. Croft Murray, Decorative Painting in England, 1537–1837, vol. 2, London, 1970, p. 179. Other sources refer to ‘Chinese artists’; for example, M. Laskin & M. Pantazzi, European and American Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts, 2 vats, Ottawa, 1987, p. 49. arranged by the dealer.8 According to G. Holbech. The Paninis seem to have been resold immediately to M. Knoedler & Co. in New York. The four Canalettos entered the London art trade and found their way at various times to Augsburg (Constable & Links (henceforth CL) 38),9 Piazza S. Marco: Looking west from the north end of the Piazzetta (The piazza between the Libreria and the Loggetta). Oil on canvas, 132 x 165 cm. Augsburg, Staatsgalerie. Constable & Links, no. 38, vol. 2, pp. 201–2. Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 3; London, Tomás Harris, 1932, no. 4; London, Arthur Tooth and Sons, Old Masters, Nov.–Dec. 1944, no. 3; exhibited Whitechapel-Birmingham, Eighteenth Century Venice, 1951, no. 8, lent by Mark Oliver; with Agnew’s, London; Brown, Boveri & Co., Baden, Zurich in Constable & Links; as Switzerland, Private Collection, in A. Bettagno, Canaletto: Disegni, Dipinti, Incision, Vicenza, 1982, no. 91; sale Sotheby’s, London, 1986, where bought by the Augsburg gallery. Melbourne (CL 128),10 The Bacino di S. Marco from the Piazzetta. Oil on canvas, 131.4 x 163.2 cm. Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Felton Bequest 1986, E1-1986. Constable & Links, no. 128, vol. 2, pp. 248–9. Bettagno, no. 92, pp. 65–6. Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 5; London, Arthur Tooth and Sons, November–December 1944, no. 20; as Arthur Tooth and Sons in Constable & Links in 1976 and as New York, private collection in Bettagno, 1982, but according to European Masterpieces. Six Centuries of Painting from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2000, with Agnew’s in 1976, 1982 and 1985 when acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria. Ottawa (CL 45)11 Piazza S. Marco: The north-east corner. Oil on canvas, 132.8 x 165.1 cm.National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, no. 3718. Constable & Links, no. 45, vol. 2, p. 205. Exhibited at Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 4, and bought for the National Gallery of Canada in that year. Laskin & Pantazzi, 1987, as St Mark’s and the clock tower, Venice, in Laskin & Pantazzi, 1987, where dated 1735–37. and a painting in 1987 with Dino Fabbri, New York (CL 173).12 Entrance to the Grand Canal, looking east (The Salute towards the Bacino). Oil on canvas, 132 x 165 cm. Private collection. Constable & Links, 1976, no. 173, vol. 2, p.270. Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 6; London: Tomás Harris, 1932, no. 5; London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, 1944; exhibited Whitechapel Birmingham, Eighteenth Century Venice, 1951, no. 9, lent by Tooth; as Arthur Tooth & Sons in Constable, Links & Bettagno, 1982, no. 93. Laskin & Pantazzi in 1987 give its location as Dino Fabbri Collection, New York. The Paninis had been lost sight of since, although the Interior of St Peter’s, now in Detroit (fig. 5), was published in Ferdinando Arisi’s catalogue raisonné of Panini’s paintings; no mention was made of the Holbech provenance, which is established by a label on the back.13 G. P. Panini, Interior of Saint Peter’s, Rome. Oil on canvas, 132 x 145 cm. Detroit Institute of Arts, inv. 56.43, gift of Mrs Edgar R. Thom. Signed and dated ‘I.P.PANINI/ROMAE/1750′. F. Arisi, Gian Paolo Panini e i fasti della Roma del ‘700, Rome: Ugo Bozzi, 1986, no. 407. A label on the back reads, ‘Colonel Holbech, No. 1 / The interior of St. Peter’s, Rome, by Panini / (illegible number which may be 1896) / April’. I would like to thank Andria Derstine for bringing the label to my attention. As far as I am aware, only N. C. Wixom & M. Linsey, ‘Panini, interior of the Pantheon, Rome’, Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 62, no. 9, 1975, pp. 263–9, followed by Laskin & Pantazzi, p. 49, make the connection between the Lunde painting and the Farnborough Hall commission. The other two Paninis, representing the Campidoglio and Piazza S. Pietro, are in a private collection in New York.14 Neither work is in Arisi.

Holbech’s Grand Tour

When were these pictures painted? The National Gallery of Victoria formerly dated this picture to 1735–45.15 Label and Masterpieces, cat. no. 33, p. 86. This wide span of years derives ultimately from a Holbech family tradition that holds that William Holbech was crossed in love as a young man and spent ten years or more in Italy. This seems to have prompted W. G. Constable, in his standard catalogue of Canaletto’s Work,16 16 Constable & Links, vol. 1, pp. 116–17. followed by Edward Croft Murray and others including Ursula Hoff,17 Croft-Murray, vol. 2, p. 179; U. Hoff & E. Devapriam, European Paintings before 1800 in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1995, p. 44; Hillier, p. 33. to propose that his Grand Tour lasted from c.1730 to c.1745. More recently, however, further information has come to light. John Ingamells in his Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701–1800, based on the Brinsley Ford archive at the Mellon Center at Yale University, tells us that William Holbech was in Italy in 1733–34.18 J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701–1800, New Haven and London, 1997, pp. 507–8. He is documented in Florence in late 1732 or early 1733 when Joseph Spence met him; in Rome on 12 November 1733 dining with Martin Folkes; in Rome on 2 March 1734, when Richard Pococke was asked to dine by Holbech’s younger brother Hugh, which took place with both brothers on 4 March. By the end of April the two Holbech brothers were in Venice on their way home, according to Colonel Burges, the Resident (ambassador). This makes it clear that Holbech returned to England in 1734. If the family tradition of a long stay by Holbech in Italy recovering from a broken heart is to be sustained, this period ended, not began, in 1734. He would have been twenty-one in 1720, having inherited Farnborough Hall in 1717, and could well have spent much of the 1720s and into the early 1730s in Italy.

Generally it has been recognised that the Canalettos, although forming a set, were not all painted at the same time. Family tradition holds that two were acquired in Italy and two in England at the time the rooms were redecorated – that is, around 1750.19 Family tradition can be an unstable basis for an argument, given that such traditions are often no more than the record of arguments invented, sometimes only recently, by members of a family to explain a work which they owned. Indeed, Laskin & Pantazzi (p. 49) cite a second tradition that Holbech returned from Italy with three Paninis and four Canalettos, perhaps the most obvious explanation to come to mind given the installation and the knowledge that Holbech had made the Grand Tour. If two Canalettos were acquired in Italy, that could have been when Holbech was in Venice around April 1734. Certainly, William Holbech seems to have acquired some Paninis on his Grand Tour, although they would not be among those installed in c.1750. An unknown antiquary who visited Farnborough, probably in 1746, saw various sculptures ‘all brought from Rome with two pictures, one of the Rotunda and the other of diverse buildings by Panino’ [sic].20 British Library, Add. MS 6230, pp. 31–2. The ‘Rotunda’ was the term often used at the time to identify the Pantheon and it seems likely that the anonymous visitor is referring to one of Panini’s many versions of the Interior of the Pantheon.21 Jackson-Stops & Haworth, 1999, p. 9, assume that this passage refers to the Piazza S. Pietro in the hall. One version (now owned by Asbjorn Lunde, New York, according to the entry in Arisi’s catalogue raisonné of Panini’s paintings) had been owned by ‘R. H. A. Holbeck’ [sic]; that is, Ronald H. Holbech, Geoffrey Holbech’s father and the person who sold them (fig. 6).22 G. P. Panini, Interior of the Pantheon. Oil on canvas, 122 x 98 cm. Signed and dated ‘I.P.PANINI Romae 1734′. Asbjorn Lunde Collection, New York. Moreover, it is known to have been with Knoedlers in 1929; at the same time as the other Paninis.23 A Knoedler’s advertisement in a magazine in 1930 illustrates this painting and the Detroit picture as coming from Farnborough Hall, referring to all four paintings as a series (see International Studio, March 1930, p. 58). The Lunde Interior of the Pantheon and the Detroit Interior of St Peter’s are illustrated, with a caption saying that they ‘belong to a series of four paintings which have recently been acquired from a private collection in England by M. Knoedler and company and have been on view at their galleries in New York’. There is, however, no copy of the Interior of the Pantheon at Farnborough nor any family tradition referring to it; indeed, Geoffrey Holbech, in conversation, has questioned the possibility of the painting ever having been there.

The Interior of the Pantheon is signed and dated 1734, the year William Holbech’s Grand Tour ended, so the painting was almost certainly acquired or commissioned in Rome. The other Panini representing ‘diverse buildings’ mentioned by the 1746 visitor does not sound like one of the Paninis that were installed alongside the Canalettos, which are of places, but was probably one of Panini’s capricci or one of his vedute ideate (views in which several recognisable Roman monuments are grouped together in imaginary juxtapositions). What happened to this second Panini is unknown. It is possible that this painting was also ordered in 1734.24 As with the Canalettos, the two paintings may have had the same dimensions. There are, however, few with dimensions close to the Lunde Pantheon (122.0 x 98.0 cm) in Arisi. One is Arisi no. 335, Ruins with figures and a statue of the Farnese Hercules, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, no. 1/63, which measures 135.0 x 98.5 cm and is said to have been in an English collection, though stylistically it seems later.

The 1746 visitor failed to mention any Canalettos, but this may be of little significance since he was primarily interested in the antiquities, so that while the Paninis may have fallen within his orbit of interest because of their subjects, the Canalettos, having contemporary Venetian subjects, may not. In any case, he only refers to three of the thirty-nine pieces of antique sculpture now at Farnborough. Evidently in 1734 Holbech was already interested in views of Rome and Venice and may have already intended to install them in a decorative scheme like the one eventually realised. The size of his Canalettos testifies to this. At 132 x 165 cm, they were much larger than the Canalettos acquired in sets by English Grand Tourists from the late 1720s (such as the Duke of Bedford’s set, which mostly measure 47 x 79 cm). The dimensions of the Holbech pictures correspond better with decorative paintings by Canaletto, often shown in sets of four and up to 2 metres wide, painted in the early 1720s. A prime example is the set of four painted in 1721–22 and thought to have belonged to the painter Antonio Pellegrini in 1741.25 Bettagno & Kowalczyk, Canaletto, nos 38–41, pp. 78–87. Although executed in Canaletto’s early, painterly style, this set shows a similar range of subjects to Holbech’s Canalettos since, with one exception, they are focused on the piazzetta and S. Maria della Salute. A group like this was almost certainly installed in fixed stucco frames in an important room, one to each wall.

For whatever reason, it was not until the mid or late 1740s that Holbech had the opportunity to create a proper environment for his pictures along the lines of those that he had seen in Venice and Rome in the 1720s and early 1730s. This may explain why these rooms are considered to be unusual for England in 1750 in the way paintings are presented surrounded by elaborate stucco framing.26 Cornforth, II, p.51. Jackson-Stops & Haworth, p. 11. But Holbech’s ambitions had evidently developed and the paintings he had acquired in 1734 were not sufficient for his purposes. He had only two Canalettos and, to decorate a room satisfactorily, he needed more. Fortunately, it was not difficult to acquire them as Canaletto was then in England. Indeed, in 1748 he was making drawings nearby at Warwick Castle for Lord Brooke,27 There are bank payments dated July 1748 and March 1749 (as well as in 1752), and an entry in the estate account book in 1748 records a payment for a drawing of the castle. See D. Buttery, ‘Canaletto at Warwick’, Burlington Magazine, July 1987, pp. 437–5; M. J. Liversidge & J. Farrington (eds), Canaletto and England (exh. cat.), Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, 1993, pp. 82–6; see also Bettagno, 1982, no. 105, pp. 76–7. The paintings would have been executed in London and sent to Lord Brooke’s townhouse. and was producing views of Badminton House, painted in the summer of 1748.28 Liversidge & Farrington, p. 18. He could well have come to Farnborough Hall at this time and have taken orders for them. That Canaletto visited and gave advice on the stucco framing is enshrined in the Holbech family’s oral tradition.29 Links, in Canaletto (Bettagno), 1982, p. 65. This is dismissed by Cornforth, II, pp. 51–2.

The two Paninis acquired in Rome were also not considered suitable for fixed installations. Possibly the proportions were unsuitable, either for the walls, where the proportions were set by the Canalettos or for the overmantels, which demanded a broader format. Instead, Holbech seems to have ordered three new works from Panini in Rome. The Detroit Interior of St Peter’s, which was installed in the prime position in the centre of the dining room wall opposite the window, is slightly narrower than the Canalettos and other Paninis. It is signed and dated 1750,30 See R. Ward Bissell, A. Derstine & D. Miller, Masters of Italian Baroque Painting, Detroit and London, 2005. a date that corresponds to the payments for the stucco.31 The assumption of Jackson-Stops & Haworth, p.4, that the Paninis were acquired on Holbech’s Grand Tour is therefore untenable. Presumably the other two Paninis, views of the Campidoglio, installed as the overmantel in the dining room, and the Piazza S. Pietro, installed as the overmantel in the hall, were commissioned at the same time. Such commissions were usually made through an agent; we do not know who Holbech’s agent was, although it could conceivably have been the painter Pietro Berton who, on 7 December 1750, shipped a Panini to England.32 A. Bertolotti, ‘Esportazione di oggetti di belle arti da Roma per l’Inghilterra’, Archivio storico artistico archeologico e letterario della città e provincia di Roma, VI, fasc. I, 1880, pp. 74–90, see 80.

Dating the Canalettos

As is argued above, Holbech had the opportunity to acquire or commission works from Canaletto in Venice in April 1734 through the usual agency of Joseph Smith, the merchant and, later, British Consul in Venice.33 This information has, however, now been assimilated into the National Trust Guidebook (Jackson-Stops & Haworth, p. 11), which states that ‘two of the Canalettos were probably bought by William Holbech in the 1730s in Venice, where he met the artist. The other two were painted during Canaletto’s first visit to England in 1746–50’. While it is possible that Holbech ordered Canalettos later in the 1730s from England, given that the Panini Interior of the Pantheon is dated 1734, it makes sense to date any Canalettos that belong stylistically to the 1730s to 1734 unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. Similarly, given that the payment to the stucco-worker and the Detroit Panini are both dated to 1750, any late Canalettos must date from close to 1750. There seems therefore to be good reason to accept the tradition that the Canalettos belong to two different periods.

But which Canalettos belong to which period? This is an issue that ought to be resolvable on the basis of style, but there is a surprising lack of agreement, especially given that all four paintings were exhibited together in 1982. The Augsburg picture fails to shows the gates of the Loggetta at the base of the campanile that were erected in 1735–37; since Canaletto had time to update the image before leaving for England in 1746, it was argued by Puppi that this painting dates from before 1735–37, a date he applied to the whole series.34 This argument was presented by L. Puppi, L’opera complete del Canaletto, Milan, 1968, cat. Nos 149–52, pp. 104–5, who carried the dating across to all four works of the set. On these grounds the Augsburg picture would therefore be one of the 1734 paintings, a date that is plausible stylistically. On stylistic grounds the Ottawa-painting (fig. 7) must be dated similarly, although it is currently dated 1735–37, following Puppi’s dating for the whole series, on the assumption that Holbech’s Grand Tour ran from c.1730 to c.1743.35 Laskin & Pantazzi, pp. 48–51, who clearly distinguish between the two pairs, Ottawa and Augsburg, and Melbourne and private collection, the latter being ‘more mechanical in handling but more brilliant in colour’. Constable pointed out that the Ottawa picture shows the clock tower without the alterations made in 1755. But this is to be expected, and the painting was certainly installed by about 1750. The other two paintings are therefore likely to date from c.1750. However, in his catalogue entries in the catalogue of the 1982 exhibition, J. G. Links accepted only the S. Maria della Salute towards the Bacino as a late work. His principal grounds for questioning a late date for the Melbourne Bacino di S. Marco from the Piazzetta were that no other versions or drawings of this composition by Canaletto existed, and that Canaletto was not in a position to create the composition from scratch in England. But such an argument from absence is weak in the face of the stylistic evidence in favour of an English or at least late dating. In particular, both the Melbourne painting and the Salute have the open, spacious piazzas with small figures characteristic of English Canalettos.

In any case, the argument that the Melbourne painting could not have been painted in England on topographical grounds is unconvincing. It is founded on the assumption that Canaletto was a photographer of the sites he represented – a conception that still underlies Emma Devapriam’s article in 1985, which attempts to reconstruct Canaletto’s viewpoint in the Palazzo Ducale.36 E. Devapriam, ‘Bacino di S. Marco: From the Piazzetta’, Art Bulletin of Victoria, no. 25, 1985, pp. 33–40. At some point there was probably a drawing made from this location and drawings showing views from a particular place are found in Canaletto’s work of the 1720s.37 J. G. Links, Canaletto, Oxford, 1982, pp. 37–8. But by the 1730s he had repeated his subjects so many times that he needed only diagrammatic information that could be applied to a perspective framework. Canaletto’s modus operandi was that of the scenographer.

The Melbourne composition would have been quite simple to construct without recent reference to the site. To a large extent, the various components could operate independently of each other. One such element is the pavement, which is a simple perspectival diagram requiring no observation other than a little information about the paving pattern. The Column of St Theodore, which Canaletto had depicted many times, would likewise have been simple to construct from a drawing or even from memory. The Libreria is a more complex design and would have required a drawing to work from; significantly it is shown frontally, as it appears in many other paintings by Canaletto, who evidently had an elevation drawing at hand at some point. Finally there are two background units: a view of the Dogana as far as one of the domes of the Salute and a view of the Giudecca. In fact, these various elements are found in numerous earlier works, and variants of this composition go back at least to c.1726–28.38Constable & Link’s chronology. The juxtaposition of the Column of St Theodore and a frontal Libreria is found in several versions of an otherwise quite different composition (CL 71, 72). The awkward proportions of the column relative to the doll’s-house Libreria is symptomatic of Canaletto’s synthetic approach, which was inattentive to matters of proportion or number.39 For Canaletto’s compositional techniques, see A. Corboz, Canaletto. Una Venezia Immaginaria, Milan, 1985. This is brought out by the painting that is closest to the Melbourne picture, now attributed to Bellotto (fig. 8).40 B. A. Kowalczyk & M. da Cortà Fumei, Bernardo Bellotto 1722–1780 (exh. cat.), Milan, 2001, p. 5, fig. 2, private collection, USA. The underlying conception is essentially the same, but the spatial relationships differ markedly and the column of St Mark is included.

When these are compared to the photograph published by Devapriam, we see an interesting sequence that runs from the photograph, which is confused compositionally, to the Bellotto, where the insistent recession generated by having two matching columns in recession is only partially tempered by the anchoring of the nearer column to the top of the canvas, and from there to the Melbourne painting, where the second column is done away with and the Column of St Theodore is brought down to the height of the Libreria and thickened. This results in a more stable and harmonious composition of overlapping rectangles of the Libreria and column, the sky and the ground plane. The receding line of the white edge of the quay is now comfortably contained within these rectangles, to the extent that it could be reinforced by a further band of white paving in the foreground. The whole is enlivened by the cool greens and pink and grey clouds of Canaletto’s late style, and by the occasional excursion into painterly abstraction in such passages as the worn posters on the columns of the Libreria and the sails of the boats. This has been achieved, of course, at the expense of the true, measured relationships between things, be they figures or architecture, in complete contradiction of what made linear perspective so important to the quattrocento, but that is Canaletto’s way and the way of eighteenth-century scenographic view-painters generally.

To conclude the question of dating: the Melbourne painting is a work of Canaletto’s English period of c.1750. There is certainly no question of dating it to 1734 or any reason to date it at some point between.

A distinctive contribution

At Farnborough Hall William Holbech set Venetian views, Roman views and antiquities into a unified decorative whole. In so doing he made a distinction that comes naturally to us, but was not always so clear-cut at the time. Canaletto, the Venetian, was the painter to turn to for views of Venice, while Panini, Rome-based if not Roman by birth, was the painter to turn to for views of Rome. Other patrons, less engaged with the Italian experience than Holbech, would simply commission views of both Venice and Rome from Canaletto, conveniently at hand in London.41 For example, Sir Richard Neave (1731–1814), First Baronet, of Dagnam Park, Essex, who is not known to have made the Grand Tour, acquired a set of works by Canaletto (including two school pieces) painted during his English period and subsequently that included nine Venetian views and three views of Rome (Piazza del Campidoglio and the Cordonata, Piazza del Quirinale, and Piazza Navona). See the entry on the Campidoglio in the catalogue of Sotheby’s, London, 10 July 2002, lot 80. Holbech’s distinctive contribution can be clarified by contrasting it with another decorative program of a similar date involving works by both Canaletto and Panini. At Milton Park near Peterborough is a set of twelve paintings, eight by Canaletto, two by Zuccarelli and two by Panini, probably acquired by Earl Fitzwilliam around 1746–47.42 Constable thought that the Canalettos were acquired by the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam on his Grand Tour in 1767–68 (CL 7, 23, 52, 98, 114, 132, 136, 237), but the fact that the two Paninis, an Interior of St Peter’s and an Interior of S. Paolo fuori le mura, are dated 1746, a third is dated 1747, and that the set has matching frames of a style current in the 1740s, suggests that they were acquired around 1746–47 by the 3rd Earl who at the end of the 1740s employed Henry Flitcroft to redecorate the house. Two of the Canalettos had belonged to Joseph Smith in Venice since they were published in the second edition of Visentini’s Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum in 1742 (Constable & Links, vol. 2, p. 190). Smith presumably offered these to Fitzwilliam and arranged for Canaletto to paint another six of the same size, as well as the two Zuccarellis.(I would like to thank Francis Russell for his views on this commission, and Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland for the opportunity to examine these works.) The Paninis (together with a large veduta ideata dated 1747) would no doubt have been ordered directly by Earl Fitzwilliam from Panini in Rome, as the second pair of Holbech’s Paninis must have been. Here, the emphasis on Venice, the modest size of the paintings and the fact that they were not in a fixed installation but hung in gilt English rococo frames would have created a very different effect from the large canvases, fixed stucco frames and the equivalence of Venice and Rome at Farnborough Hall. The comparison reinforces just how Italianate Holbech’s commission was anticipating the work of Robert Adam twenty years later.43 See note 26 above. By then Rome had triumphed over Venice; Adam would favour Paniniesque ruin capricci by Antonio Zucchi, Roman in inspiration, with Venice nowhere to be seen.

In his choice of subjects too, Holbech seems to have had a mind of his own. It is well known that the love of things Venetian by the grand Whig aristocrats, many of whom commissioned sets of Venetian views from Canaletto, was connected to their sympathy for the political structure of Venice.44 See a forthcoming essay by Francis Russell in Canaletto and England (exh. cat.), Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2007. Conversely, they were antipathetic to things papal but enthusiastic about antique (especially republican) Rome. It may therefore be significant that a radical republican Whig, Thomas Hollis, who was in Venice from 8 December 1750 until 28 February 1751,45 Ingamells, pp. 512–13. when back in England in 1754 ordered from Canaletto, who was then still in London, a set of six views, five of which were of English subjects and one Roman – a view of the Campidoglio.46 CL 396, 420, 422, 437b, 441, 472. (Canaletto’s Campidoglio view was based on a print by Alessandro Specchi, as also (more surprisingly) was Panini’s view of the same subject for Holbech.)47 This observation prompted Links in 1982 (Bettagno) to propose in an exploratory way the idea that the second Holbech English Canaletto had this subject, which he would have known from the Panini. But the relationship between them is not close enough to warrant taking the idea further and is, as we have seen, unnecessary. Possibly the choice of subjects implied a view about the connection between ancient, republican Rome and modern Britain. Holbech moved in less exalted circles than Whig grandees like the Duke of Bedford, and his choice of subjects suggests that he was concerned to create a balance between republican Venice, and antique and papal Rome. In the hall ancient Rome in the form of marble busts is accompanied by modern (papal) Rome in the form of the Piazza S. Pietro. In the saloon views of civic Venice (the piazza and Piazzetta, as well as S. Maria della Salute, a church central to Venetian state rituals) are associated not only with the civic Rome that is both modern and antique (the Campidoglio), but also with the heart of ecclesiastical Rome (the interior of St Peter’s).

Although there is much more we would like to know about William Holbech, what little we do know makes it clear that his approach to commissioning topographical paintings from. Canaletto and Panini was a considered one and resulted in a commission that needs to be understood as a whole. While Canaletto’s Bacino di S. Marco can now be examined at leisure by a wider public, it is all the more important to reconstruct in our mind’s eye its original context, in order to better imagine the responses it would have prompted in the age of the Grand Tour.

 Appendix: The drawings

One detail of Bacino di S. Marco that calls for further investigation is the figure of the man with a boy (fig. 9). Canaletto’s figures are to some extent formulaic, but this figure is distinctive and corresponds exactly to one of the figures in a drawing A crowd of spectators watching an acrobat (fig 10).48 See Constable & Links, no. 840****, vol. 2, pp. 616–17, and vol. 1, plate 222; then private collection, Switzerland. L. Dania, ‘Un Disegno inedito di Antonio Canaletto’, Notizie da Palazzo Albani, vol. 1, nos 1–3, 1972, pp. 52–6; M. Natale, ‘Peintures et dessins venitiens’ in Peintures et dessins venitiens (exh. cat.), Electa, Milan, 1978, pp. 85–246, see p. 183; Brussels, Petals des Beaux-Arts, Masterpieces of Eighteenth-Century Venetian Drawing (exh. cat.), 1983, p. 154, no. 104; Kowalczky in Kowalczyk & da Cortá Fumei, 2001, p. 12, note 4 (as Bellotto). Sold Christie’s, London, 4 July 2000, lot 46, bought Jean-Luc Baroni, in the Colnaghi Summer 2001 drawings catalogue (An Exhibition Of Master Drawings, Colnaghi at Adam Williams Fine Art Ltd), New York, 2–26 May 2001, and at Colnaghi, London, 13 June–20 July 2001, no. 24, illustrated in colour, as Canaletto. I would Like to thank Jean-Luc Baroni for providing a photograph. This drawing is one of several that may have come from the same sketchbook, identifiable by the numbers they bear.49 See Constable & Links, under no. 840****. They identify several drawings originating from more than one sketchbook that were apparently bound together at some point, as indicated by numbers such as ’56’ or ’59 uolta’ (i.e. 59 verso). Three of these drawings, 840*, 840** (The six figures and bird-coops) and 840***, numbered respectively 43, 42 and 49, they argue came from the same sketchbook. These three they label as ‘attributed to Canaletto’, although the Crowd watching a tumbler (840 ****), which is in the same style, is considered by them to be autograph. Indeed all the figure drawings that Constable & Links connect by way of these ascribed numbers seem to be stylistically similar, as was recognised by Bettagno, who ascribed the Crowd watching a tumbler to Canaletto without qualification. Another drawing of this group shows figures with birdcages like those at the base of the column in the painting, which was where the bird sellers gathered, although none of the figures correspond.50 Constable & Links, 1976, no. 840**, vol. 2, p. 615, vol. 1, plate 221 (as attributed to Canaletto).

These drawings have traditionally been ascribed to Canaletto at a late stage of his career (Natale and Corboz propose 1756–68, at the very end of Canaletto’s life after his return to Venice),51 Corboz, 1985, no. D216, p. 766. Natale, 1978, p. 183. but recently, Charles Beddington has reassigned all but two (which are in a slightly different manner) to Bellotto.52 C. Beddington, ‘Bernardo Bellotto and his circle in Italy. (Part I) ‘Not Canaletto but Bellotto’, Burlington Magazine, 146, October 2004, pp. 665–74. The name of Bellotto was first associated with the Acrobat by Larissa Salmina, as noted by T. Pignatti, Master Drawings, vol. 11, no. 2, but was rejected by Bettagno (cat. no. 39, p. 45). It was published as an early work by Bellotto by Kowalczyk, 2001, p. 12, note 3. It was catalogued by Christie’s, London (4 July 2000, lot 46) as Canaletto, but with a note that ‘Charles Beddington is inclined to regard these sheets as by Bellotto’. The attribution to Bellotto was rejected in the Colnaghi catalogues cited in note 48 above. As he writes, ‘This type of drawing is dissimilar from Canaletto’s drawings at any stage of his career’. Since figures derived from or closely connected with these drawings appear both in works by Canaletto and works by Bellotto painted in Northern Europe, they must have common origins in Canaletto’s studio before 1747, when Bellotto left Italy.53 Laskin & Pantazzi (p. 53) have noted that the drawing inscribed ’42′(CL 840**) contains two figures corresponding to the man and woman strolling in front of the church of S. Giacomo di Rialto in the Canaletto in Ottawa (CL 298) (datable to c.1756 according to Laskin & Pantazzi, but which Beddington, p. 670, ‘is inclined to date to the mid­–1740s’) and in Canaletto’s Campo di Rialto (CL 282, 1758/63 for Sigmund Streit). The whole group in drawing 42 appear in Canaletto’s Piazzetta looking north (CL 68) (signed and dated 1743, Windsor Castle) and Bellotto’s The Altmarkt, Dresden, from Seestrasse, deposited in the Royal collections in Dresden in 1751 (S. Kozakiewicz, Bernardo Bellotto, 2 vols, London, 1972, no. 176). The female figure seems to be a faithful copy after a sheet in the Museo Correr by Carlevarijs and studio (A. Rizzi, Disegni, Incisioni e Bozzetti del Carlevarijs (exh. cat.), Udine, 1964, fig. 97). Whether or not the sheets from the sketchbook are in Bellotto’s hand (as seems likely) or Canaletto’s, it would seem that Canaletto had with him in England either the sketchbook from which the surviving sheets came or a version of it.

Some of these drawings derive from studies by Luca Carlevarijs (1663–1730).54 As Laskin & Pantazzi observe (p. 53): ‘It is perhaps to be assumed that after Carlevarijs died in 1730, Canaletto obtained his figure studies – oil sketches and drawings that seem to be by several hands – now dispersed in London and Venice’. He was meticulous in recording the details of contemporary costume for his festival pictures, and left behind numerous sketches, some of which evidently were acquired by – or at least known to – the Canaletto workshop. Most are arrays of single-figure studies, often in two tiers,55 British Museum, Italian 197.c.5, no. 2; Rizzi, Disegni, fig. 100. but some show groups of figures engaged in a common activity, and were presumably drawn from life or based on drawings for life, in which figures were grouped in such a way, such as we find in the Canaletto drawings.56 British Museum, Italian 197.c.5, no. 35; Rizzi, Disegni, fig. 120. The kind of men represented by the long-nosed man appear in a number of these drawings,57 For example, London, V&A, D.1352A-1887, no. 21 (Rizzi, fig. 133).

Although I have not been able to find this particular figure in Carlevarijs’s paintings, a related figure, presumably based on drawings such as these or the more fully worked up, coloured bozzetti (sketches) that Carlevarijs also made, appears in several of his paintings.58 For example, in the Moto with the Palazzo Ducale and Libreria, 94 x 195 cm. Milan, private collection; I. Reale & D. Succi, Luca Carlevarijs e la Veduta Veneziana del Settecento (exh. cat.), Palazzo della Ragione, Milan, 1994, no. 58, pp. 232–3, where it is dated c.1715.

The majority of Carlevarijs’s sketches are in a linear style, with pothooks for folds, quite similar to those in the Canaletto/Bellotto drawings, although the latter are more stylised, even caricature-like and are rendered in a firmer, more even hand. The Canaletto/Bellotto figures are more emphatically articulated and lack the woodenness of Carlevarijs figures. In the figure in question, the sharp indent of the back at the waist, the protruding neck and the small feet seem to be more Canaletto than Carlevarijs. Significantly, Canaletto’s figures have shed much of the historical specificity of those by Carlevarijs. His audience was interested in the costume and the social position of each individual. Thirty-five years later, in England, Canaletto’s audience evidently no longer cared about such matters; a picturesque exoticism was all that mattered. For example, the figure at the left, facing us, wearing baggy pants and, perhaps, a carnival mask, may once have been one of Carlevarijs’s Orientals.

Also interesting is the relationship between painting and drawing. While the figure of the long-nosed man in the drawing is wholly linear, in the painting it is constructed in two tones of each colour area, each done in a single sweep of the brush. The relationship is such that one would be tempted to suppose that the drawn figure is a linear abstraction from the painted one, but given the probable origins of the figure in a drawing by Carlevarijs, this is unlikely to be the case. Rather, Canaletto seems to have been capable of moving between two modes, a linear one that described the structural features of a figure in a drawing and a tonal manner appropriate to painting that translated these lines into areas of colour.59 The relationship between drawing and painting is thus different from the case of Panini, who tends to repeat stock figures taken from sketchbooks.

The spatial construction of the Canaletto/Bellotto Acrobat drawing is, however, different from anything we find in Carlevarijs. Evidently Canaletto or Bellotto, in assembling Carlevarijs’s figures, would occasionally group them in such a way that they appeared to belong to a common space.60 Another example is the Studies of gondolas and figures in Berlin (Reale & Succi, p. 110). In her essay ‘Per divertimento di Sua Maesta: Appunti suite regata di Federico IV’, pp. 107–14, Reale notes the connection between this drawing and Carlevarijs’s Regatta in honour of Ferdinando IV King of Denmark and Norway, 1709, Fredericksborg, and an engraving after it by Giusepe Baroni. She identifies three figures that correspond to the painting and the engraving, which she suggests would have been the source that Canaletto employed. I am, however, sceptical that in the Berlin drawing, Canaletto is making a series of notations taken from the print, as Reale argues. Since only a few figures can be traced to the print, and given that the last of these (a sailor with arm extended and the jacket placed on his shoulders) is also found in one of Carlevarijs’s bozzetti (sketches) (A. Rizzi, Luca Carlevarijs, Venice, 1967, bozzetti, p.9, fig. 4) it may well be that Canaletto relied on drawings of single figures for all three derivations, rather than on the composition as a whole. In spite of a great deal of overlapping, which would seem to imply that the figures are in their original relationships, the composition as a whole does not make sense. Given the way Canaletto in these drawings seems to combine single figures to suggest spatial relationships between them, it is more likely that the apparent relationships between figures in the Studies of gondolas and figures were created by Canaletto in assembling the drawing from Carlevarijs models. If so, it is interesting for the implications it has for our understanding of the way Canaletto’s pictorial imagination worked. The figure groups at the bottom of the Acrobat drawing look like an assemblage of five separate notations, each having a slightly different perspective: the two masked men at left; the man with the long nose; the cloaked man and woman; the single woman; and the group of six men. The group around the acrobat, by contrast, seems to be a single notation, demanding as this might appear to be. The absence in the drawing of the boy that accompanies the long-nosed man in the painting, and the interaction between the two figures that this grouping implies, suggests that this pairing was created on the canvas.

Assoc. Prof. David R. Marshall, Head of Art History Program, University of Melbourne (in 2005).

Notes

I am grateful to Alastair Laing of the National Trust for sharing with me his

knowledge of the paintings at Farnborough Hall.

1      See W. G. Constable & J. G. Links, Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal

1697–1768, Oxford and New York, 1976, cat. no. 4, pp. 188–9 (1731).

2      J. Ruskin, Modern Painters, Volume I, Containing Parts I. and II of General

Principles, and Truth, Orpington, Kent, 1888, vol. 1, pp. 109–10.

Admittedly this passage refers to a somewhat earlier phase of

Canaletto’s career, when the lines are blacker.

3      For a description of the Stonemason’s yard see Constable & Links, p.

107; A. Bettagno & B. A. Kowalczyk, Canaletto Prima Maniera, Milan,

2001, p. 136. Constable’s characterisation of the painting as a fusion of

Canaletto’s two approaches, the picturesque mode of his early work and

the drier, topographical mode developed for the Grand Tour market

from about 1727, needs to be modified in view of Kowalczyk’s redating of

the painting from Constable’s c.1729–30 and Levey’s 1726–30 to 1725, on

topographical grounds: the canonico of the church at S. Vidal, visible in

the left foreground, was demolished beginning 17 August 1725.

(Kowalczyk, ‘I Canaletto delta National Gallery di Londra’, Art Veneta,

vol. 53, no. 2, 1998, pp. 72–99; Bettagno & Kowalczyk, in Canaletto Prima

Maniera, p. 136.

4      G. Beard, Decorative Plasterwork in Great Britain, London, 1975, p. 233;

J. Cornforth, ‘Farnborough Hall, Warwickshire – II: A property of the

National Trust and the home of Mr and Mrs Geoffrey Holbech’, Country

Life, vol. 190, no. 29, 1996, pp. 50–3.

5      I. Hiller, ‘Geschichte des Hauses und der Skulpturensammlung’, in Di

Antiken Skulpturen in Farnborough Hall, sowie in Althorp House, Blenheim

Palace, Lyme Park und Penrice Castle, A. Scholl, Mainz, 1995, pp. 35–6.

See also J. Scott, The Pleasures of Antiquity British Collectors of Greece

and Rome, New Haven and London, 2003, note 38, p. 297.

6      G. Holbech, in conversation with the author, indicated that all were sold

to the one dealer, Savile Gallery.

7     E. Croft Murray, Decorative Painting in England, 1537–1837, vol. 2,

London, 1970, p. 179. Other sources refer to ‘Chinese artists”; for example,

M. Laskin & M. Pantazzi, European and American Painting, Sculpture, and

Decorative Arts, 2 vats, Ottawa, 1987, p. 49.

8      According to G. Holbech.

9      Piazza S. Marco: Looking west from the north end of the Piazzetta (The

piazza between the Libreria and the Loggetta). Oil on canvas, 132 x 165 cm.

Augsburg, Staatsgalerie. Constable & Links, no. 38, vol. 2, pp. 201–2.

Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 3; London, Tomas Harris, 1932, no. 4; London,

Arthur Tooth and Sons, Old Masters, Nov.-Dec. 1944, no. 3; exhibited

Whitechapel-Birmingham, Eighteenth Century Venice, 1951, no. 8, lent by

Mark Oliver; with Agnew’s, London; Brown, Boveri & Co., Baden, Zurich

in Constable & Links; as Switzerland, Private Collection, in A. Bettagno,

Canaletto: Disegni, Dipinti, Incision, Vicenza, 1982, no. 91; sale Sotheby’s,

London, 1986, where bought by the Augsburg gallery.

10      The Bacino di S. Marco from the Piazzetta. Oil on canvas, 131.4 x 163.2 cm.

Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Felton Bequest 1986, E1-1986.

Constable & Links, no. 128, vol. 2, pp. 248–9. Bettagno, no. 92, pp. 65–6.

Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 5; London, Arthur Tooth and Sons,

November–December 1944, no. 20; as Arthur Tooth and Sons in

Constable & Links in 1976 and as New York, private collection in

Bettagno, 1982, but according to European Masterpieces. Six Centuries of

Painting from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2000, with

Agnew’s in 1976, 1982 and 1985 when acquired by the National Gallery

of Victoria.

11      Piazza S. Marco: The north-east corner. Oil on canvas, 132.8 x 165.1 cm.

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, no. 3718. Constable & Links, no. 45,

vol. 2, p. 205. Exhibited at Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 4, and bought for the

National Gallery of Canada in that year. Laskin & Pantazzi, 1987, as

St Mark’s and the clock tower, Venice, in Laskin & Pantazzi, 1987, where

dated 1735–37.

12     Entrance to the Grand Canal, looking east (The Salute towards the Bacino).

Oil on canvas, 132 x 165 cm. Private collection. Constable & Links, 1976,

no. 173, vol. 2, p.270. Savile Gallery, 1930, no. 6; London: Tomás Harris,

1932, no. 5; London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, 1944; exhibited Whitechapel-

Birmingham, Eighteenth Century Venice, 1951, no. 9, lent by Tooth; as

Arthur Tooth & Sons in Constable, Links & Bettagno, 1982, no. 93. Laskin

& Pantazzi in 1987 give its location as Dino Fabbri Collection, New York.

13      G. P. Panini, Interior of Saint Peter’s, Rome. Oil on canvas, 132 x 145 cm.

Detroit Institute of Arts, inv. 56.43, gift of Mrs Edgar R. Thom. Signed and

dated ‘I.P.PANINI/ROMAE/1750′. F. Arisi, Gian Paolo Panini e i fasti della

Roma del ‘700, Rome: Ugo Bozzi, 1986, no. 407. A label on the back

reads, ‘Colonel Holbech, No. 1 / The interior of St. Peter’s, Rome, by

Panini / (illegible number which may be 1896) / April’. I would like to

thank Andria Derstine for bringing the label to my attention. As far as

I am aware, only N. C. Wixom & M. Linsey, ‘Panini, interior of the

Pantheon, Rome’, Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 62, no. 9,

1975, pp. 263–9, followed by Laskin & Pantazzi, p. 49, make the connection

between the Lunde painting and the Farnborough Hall commission.

14      Neither work is in Arisi.

15      Label and Masterpieces, cat. no. 33, p. 86.

16      Constable & Links, vol. 1, pp. 116–17.

17      Croft-Murray, vol. 2, p. 179; U. Hoff & E. Devapriam, European Paintings

before 1800 in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1995, p. 44;

Hillier, p. 33.

18      J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701–1800,

New Haven and London, 1997, pp. 507–8.

19      Family tradition can be an unstable basis for an argument, given that

such traditions are often no more than the record of arguments invented,

sometimes only recently, by members of a family to explain a work

which they owned. Indeed, Laskin & Pantazzi (p. 49) cite a second

tradition that Holbech returned from Italy with three Paninis and four

Canalettos, perhaps the most obvious explanation to come to mind

given the installation and the knowledge that Holbech had made the

Grand Tour.

20      British Library, Add. MS 6230, pp. 31–2.

21      Jackson-Stops & Haworth, 1999, p. 9, assume that this passage refers

to the Piazza S. Pietro in the hall.

22      G. P. Panini, Interior of the Pantheon. Oil on canvas, 122 x 98 cm. Signed

and dated ‘I.P.PANINI Romae 1734′. Asbjorn Lunde Collection, New York.

23      A Knoedler’s advertisement in a magazine in 1930 illustrates this painting

and the Detroit picture as coming from Farnborough Hall, referring to

all four paintings as a series (see International Studio, March 1930,

p. 58). The Lunde Interior of the Pantheon and the Detroit Interior of

St Peter’s are illustrated, with a caption saying that they ‘belong to a

series of four paintings which have recently been acquired from a private

collection in England by M. Knoedler and company and have been on

view at their galleries in New York’.

24      As with the Canalettos, the two paintings may have had the same

dimensions. There are, however, few with dimensions close to the

Lunde Pantheon (122.0 x 98.0 cm) in Arisi. One is Arisi no. 335, Ruins with

figures and a statue of the Farnese Hercules, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, no.

1/63, which measures 135.0 x 98.5 cm and is said to have been in an

English collection, though stylistically it seems later.

25      Bettagno & Kowalczyk, Canaletto, nos 38–41, pp. 78–87.

26      Cornforth, II, p.51. Jackson-Stops & Haworth, p. 11.

27      There are bank payments dated July 1748 and March 1749 (as well as

in 1752), and an entry in the estate account book in 1748 records a

payment for a drawing of the castle. See D. Buttery, ‘Canaletto at

Warwick’, Burlington Magazine, July 1987, pp. 437–5; M. J. Liversidge &

J. Farrington (eds), Canaletto and England (exh. cat.), Birmingham

Museums and Art Gallery, 1993, pp. 82–6; see also Bettagno, 1982,

no. 105, pp. 76–7. The paintings would have been executed in London

and sent to Lord Brooke’s townhouse.

28      Liversidge & Farrington, p. 18.

29      Links, in Canaletto (Bettagno), 1982, p. 65. This is dismissed by

Cornforth, II, pp. 51–2.

30      See R. Ward Bissell, A. Derstine & D. Miller, Masters of Italian Baroque

Painting, Detroit and London, 2005.

31     The assumption of Jackson-Stops & Haworth, p.4, that the Paninis were

acquired on Holbech’s Grand Tour is therefore untenable.

32     A. Bertolotti, ‘Esportazione di oggetti di belle arti da Roma per

l’Inghilterra’, Archivio storico artistico archeologico e letterario della città

e provincia di Roma, VI, fasc. I, 1880, pp. 74–90, see 80.

33      This information has, however, now been assimilated into the National

Trust Guidebook (Jackson-Stops & Haworth, p. 11), which states that

‘two of the Canalettos were probably bought by William Holbech in the

1730s in Venice, where he met the artist. The other two were painted

during Canaletto’s first visit to England in 1746–50′.

34      This argument was presented by L. Puppi, L’opera complete del

Canaletto, Milan, 1968, cat. Nos 149–52, pp. 104–5, who carried the

dating across to all four works of the set.

35      Laskin & Pantazzi, pp. 48–51, who clearly distinguish between the two

pairs, Ottawa and Augsburg, and Melbourne and private collection, the

latter being ‘more mechanical in handling but more brilliant in colour’.

Constable pointed out that the Ottawa picture shows the clock tower

without the alterations made in 1755. But this is to be expected, and the

painting was certainly installed by about 1750.

36      E. Devapriam, ‘Bacino di S. Marco: From the Piazzetta’, Art Bulletin of

Victoria, no. 25, 1985, pp. 33–40.

37     J. G. Links, Canaletto, Oxford, 1982, pp. 37–8.

38      Constable & Link’s chronology.

39      For Canaletto’s compositional techniques, see A. Corboz, Canaletto.

Una Venezia Immaginaria, Milan, 1985.

40      B. A. Kowalczyk & M. da Cortà Fumei, Bernardo Bellotto 1722–1780

(exh. cat.), Milan, 2001, p. 5, fig. 2, private collection, USA.

41      For example, Sir Richard Neave (1731–1814), First Baronet, of Dagnam

Park, Essex, who is not known to have made the Grand Tour, acquired a

set of works by Canaletto (including two school pieces) painted during

his English period and subsequently that included nine Venetian views

and three views of Rome (Piazza del Campidoglio and the Cordonata,

Piazza del Quirinale, and Piazza Navona). See the entry on the

Campidoglio in the catalogue of Sotheby’s, London, 10 July 2002, lot 80.

42      Constable thought that the Canalettos were acquired by the 4th Earl

Fitzwilliam on his Grand Tour in 1767–68 (CL 7, 23, 52, 98, 114, 132, 136,

237), but the fact that the two Paninis, an Interior of St Peter’s and an

Interior of S. Paolo fuori le mura, are dated 1746, a third is dated 1747,

and that the set has matching frames of a style current in the 1740s,

suggests that they were acquired around 1746–47 by the 3rd Earl who at

the end of the 1740s employed Henry Flitcroft to redecorate the house.

Two of the Canalettos had belonged to Joseph Smith in Venice since they

were published in the second edition of Visentini’s Prospectus Magni

Canalis Venetiarum in 1742 (Constable & Links, vol. 2, p. 190). Smith

presumably offered these to Fitzwilliam and arranged for Canaletto to

paint another six of the same size, as well as the two Zuccarellis.

(I would like to thank Francis Russell for his views on this commission, and

Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland for the opportunity to examine these works.)

43      See note 26 above. By then Rome had triumphed over Venice; Adam

would favour Paniniesque ruin capricci by Antonio Zucchi, Roman in

inspiration, with Venice nowhere to be seen.

44      See a forthcoming essay by Francis Russell in Canaletto and England

(exh. cat.), Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2007.

45      Ingamells, pp. 512–13.

46      CL 396, 420, 422, 437b, 441, 472.

47      This observation prompted Links in 1982 (Bettagno) to propose in an

exploratory way the idea that the second Holbech English Canaletto had

this subject, which he would have known from the Panini. But the

relationship between them is not close enough to warrant taking the

idea further and is, as we have seen, unnecessary.

48      See Constable & Links, no. 840****, vol. 2, pp. 616–17, and vol. 1, plate

222; then private collection, Switzerland. L. Dania, ‘Un Disegno inedito

di Antonio Canaletto’, Notizie da Palazzo Albani, vol. 1, nos 1–3, 1972,

pp. 52–6; M. Natale, ‘Peintures et dessins venitiens’ in Peintures et

dessins venitiens (exh. cat.), Electa, Milan, 1978, pp. 85–246, see p. 183;

Brussels, Petals des Beaux-Arts, Masterpieces of Eighteenth-Century

Venetian Drawing (exh. cat.), 1983, p. 154, no. 104; Kowalczky in

Kowalczyk & da Cortá Fumei, 2001, p. 12, note 4 (as Bellotto). Sold

Christie’s, London, 4 July 2000, lot 46, bought Jean-Luc Baroni, in the

Colnaghi Summer 2001 drawings catalogue (An Exhibition Of Master

Drawings, Colnaghi at Adam Williams Fine Art Ltd), New York, 2–26 May

2001, and at Colnaghi, London, 13 June–20 July 2001, no. 24, illustrated

in colour, as Canaletto. I would Like to thank Jean-Luc Baroni for providing

a photograph.

49       See Constable & Links, under no. 840****. They identify several

drawings originating from more than one sketchbook that were

apparently bound together at some point, as indicated by numbers such

as ’56 or ’59 uolta’ (i.e. 59 verso). Three of these drawings, 840*, 840**

(The six figures and bird-coops) and 840***, numbered respectively 43, 42

and 49, they argue came from the same sketchbook. These three they

label as ‘attributed to Canaletto’, although the Crowd watching a tumbler

(840 ****), which is in the same style, is considered by them to be

autograph. Indeed all the figure drawings that Constable & Links

connect by way of these ascribed numbers seem to be stylistically

similar, as was recognised by Bettagno, who ascribed the Crowd

watching a tumbler to Canaletto without qualification.

50      Constable & Links, 1976, no. 840**, vol. 2, p. 615, vol. 1, plate 221

(as attributed to Canaletto).

51      Corboz, 1985, no. D216, p. 766. Natale, 1978, p. 183.

52      C. Beddington, ‘Bernardo Bellotto and his circle in Italy. (Part I) ‘Not

Canaletto but Bellotto’, Burlington Magazine, 146, October 2004,

pp. 665–74. The name of Bellotto was first associated with the Acrobat

by Larissa Salmina, as noted by T. Pignatti, Master Drawings, vol. 11, no.

2, but was rejected by Bettagno (cat. no. 39, p. 45). It was published as

an early work by Bellotto by Kowalczyk, 2001, p. 12, note 3. It was

catalogued by Christie’s, London (4 July 2000, lot 46) as Canaletto, but

with a note that ‘Charles Beddington is inclined to regard these sheets

as by Bellotto’. The attribution to Bellotto was rejected in the Colnaghi

catalogues cited in note 48 above.

53      Laskin & Pantazzi (p. 53) have noted that the drawing inscribed ’42’

(CL 840**) contains two figures corresponding to the man and woman

strolling in front of the church of S. Giacomo di Rialto in the Canaletto in

Ottawa (CL 298) (datable to c.1756 according to Laskin & Pantazzi, but

which Beddington, p. 670, ‘is inclined to date to the mid­–1740s’) and in

Canaletto’s Campo di Rialto (CL 282, 1758/63 for Sigmund Streit). The

whole group in drawing 42 appear in Canaletto’s Piazzetta looking north

(CL 68) (signed and dated 1743, Windsor Castle) and Bellotto’s The

Altmarkt, Dresden, from Seestrasse, deposited in the Royal collections in

Dresden in 1751 (S. Kozakiewicz, Bernardo Bellotto, 2 vols, London,

1972, no. 176). The female figure seems to be a faithful copy after a

sheet in the Museo Correr by Carlevarijs and studio (A. Rizzi, Disegni,

Incisioni e Bozzetti del Carlevarijs (exh. cat.), Udine, 1964, fig. 97).

54       As Laskin & Pantazzi observe (p. 53): ‘It is perhaps to be assumed that

after Carlevarijs died in 1730, Canaletto obtained his figure studies –

oil sketches and drawings that seem to be by several hands – now

dispersed in London and Venice’.

55       British Museum, Italian 197.c.5, no. 2; Rizzi, Disegni, fig. 100.

56      British Museum, Italian 197.c.5, no. 35; Rizzi, Disegni, fig. 120.

57      For example, London, V&A, D.1352A-1887, no. 21 (Rizzi, fig. 133).

58      For example, in the Moto with the Palazzo Ducale and Libreria, 94 x 195 cm.

Milan, private collection; I. Reale & D. Succi, Luca Carlevarijs e la Veduta

Veneziana del Settecento (exh. cat.), Palazzo della Ragione, Milan, 1994,

no. 58, pp. 232–3, where it is dated c.1715.

59      The relationship between drawing and painting is thus different from the

case of Panini, who tends to repeat stock figures taken from sketchbooks.

60      Another example is the Studies of gondolas and figures in Berlin (Reale & Succi, p. 110). In her essay ‘Per divertimento di Sua Maesta: Appunti suite regata di Federico IV’, pp. 107–14, Reale notes the connection between this drawing and Carlevarijs’s Regatta in honour of Ferdinando IV King of Denmark and Norway, 1709, Fredericksborg, and an engraving after it by Giusepe Baroni. She identifies three figures that correspond to the painting and the engraving, which she suggests would have been the source that Canaletto employed. I am, however, sceptical that in the Berlin drawing, Canaletto is making a series of notations taken from the print, as Reale argues. Since only a few figures can be traced to the print, and given that the last of these (a sailor with arm extended and the jacket placed on his shoulders) is also found in one of Carlevarijs’s bozzetti (sketches) (A. Rizzi, Luca Carlevarijs, Venice, 1967, bozzetti, p.9, fig. 4) it may well be that Canaletto relied on drawings of single figures for all three derivations, rather than on the composition as a whole. In spite of a great deal of overlapping, which would seem to imply that the figures are in their original relationships, the composition as a whole does not make sense. Given the way Canaletto in these drawings seems to combine single figures to suggest spatial relationships between them, it is more likely that the apparent relationships between figures in the Studies of gondolas and figures were created by Canaletto in assembling the drawing from Carlevarijs models. If so, it is interesting for the implications it has for our understanding of the way Canaletto’s pictorial imagination worked.