(n/a) Venetian School, circa 1765 A round tower and other buildings near a fortified bridge oval 20 3/8 x 24in (50.8 x 61cm)
Lot 20
(n/a) Venetian School
circa 1765
A round tower and other buildings near a fortified bridge oval 20 3/8 x 24in (50.8 x 61cm)
Sold for US$ 26,840 inc. premium

European Paintings

4 May 2011, 13:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
Property of another owner
(n/a) Venetian School, circa 1765 A round tower and other buildings near a fortified bridge oval 20 3/8 x 24in (50.8 x 61cm)
(n/a) Venetian School, circa 1765
A round tower and other buildings near a fortified bridge
oil on canvas
oval 20 3/8 x 24in (50.8 x 61cm)


    Private Collection, Italy (export label dating from after the Unification of Italy on the reverse);
    M.H. Milner, Berkeley Square, London;
    Sale, Christie's, London, 24 June 1911, lot 53, (as Canaletto);
    Purchased by Robert von Mendelssohn (1857-1917), Grunewald, Berlin;
    His widow Giulietta, née Gordigliani (1857-1955), Grunewald, Berlin;
    By descent to their children Eleonora von Mendelssohn (1899-1951) and Francesco von Mendelssohn (1901-1972);
    Lilly Wittels (died 1972), New York;
    Her son, John Wittels, Granada Hills, California, by 1975 (as Francesco Guardi);
    His widow(?) Annalisa Wittels (1927-2008), Tucson, Arizona;
    Thence by descent to the present owners.

    This painting has not been seen in public since 1911, however, there must have been a painting by Canaletto of this composition, as an engraving by Fabio Berardi (1728-1788) published by Giuseppe Wagner (1706-1786) is inscribed 'Anto Canaletto Pinx.'
    (W.G. Constable, Canaletto, London, 1962, I, pl. 152; D. Succi, catalogue of the exhibition Da Carlevarijs ai Tiepolo: Incisori veneti e friulani del Settecento, Palazzo Attems, Gorizia, and Museo Correr, Venice, 1983, p. 76, no. 44, illustrated, and see p. 75, note 2, where the proposed dating of the series of six prints of which this is a component to 1755-1765 is discussed). The print shows minor variations. It includes a small sailing boat at lower right and two additional figures in the left foreground. Although in a rectangular format, it does not show the building on the far left, nor the two right hand piers of the bridge, and there is less sky and water. In other respects, including the cloud formations, however, it corresponds quite closely.

    There also exists a drawing by Canaletto, last recorded in the Marquis of Lansdowne's sale in 1920, in which the composition is reversed, most of the buildings on the landward side of the tower are omitted and there are other variations (Constable, op. cit., I, pl. 152; II, no. 806). A recently rediscovered gouache which corresponds most closely with the drawing was exhibited as the work of Canaletto in the 2001 exhibition of Canaletto: Una Venècia Imaginària which was held in Barcelona at the Centre de Cultura Comtemporania, and in Madrid at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza; the gouache was also exhibited at Villa Manin di Passariano, Udine in the exhibition Da Canaletto a Zuccarelli: il paesaggio veneto del Settecento in 2003. The tower and its adjoining buildings also features in the same sense as the drawing but in a different setting in a painting in the Museo Civico Amedeo Lia at La Spezia.

    Several paintings, including the present lot, deriving from the print show the impression which the composition made on contemporaries. One by Canaletto's pupil Francesco Tironi was sold at Christie's, London, 4 July 1997, lot 384. Another was sold by Wannenes, Genoa, 24 February 2009, lot 22, as 'Attributed to Bison'.

    It is interesting to note that this picture was part of the spectacular collection formed by Robert Mendelssohn. Robert is best known in artistic circles for his purchases from the great Berlin dealer Paul Cassirer. These included Vincent van Gogh's Irises (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Landscape at Saint-Rémy (Indianapolis Museum of Art), and Camille Pissarro's Public Garden at Pontoise (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).
    After the death of Robert and his widow Giulietta their two children, Francesco and Eleonora, apparently inherited the painting jointly. Eleonora died in 1951; her brother spent his last years with Lilly Wittles in New York and she inherited the picture upon his death. Lilly was to bequeath the picture to her son John of Granada Hills, California, who left the picture to Annalisa Wittles which then passed by inheritance to the present owners.

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