Notable Sales European Paintings
Canal, Giovanni Antonio , called Canaletto
The Molo, looking north - west, with the Palazzo Ducale
58 x 93 cms
Charles Paulet, 3rd Duke of Bolton(1685 - 1754);thence by descent to a Mrs Paulet who sold them with three companions to the Rev. Samuel Clarke-Jervoise, according to an 1855 note by his son Sir Jervoise Clarke-Jervoise, "Mem:m from Mr Seguier to me 1855 J.C.J. 4 Canaletti were painted for the Duke of Bolton then at Venice, and were purchased at the recommendation of Mr. Seguier by my father from Mrs Poulett who asked the cost price(£25 for each picture) according to the receipt she had, under the hand of Canaletti, or mem;m of the D. of Bolton £100 for the four paintings, J.C.J. Feb:y 12, 1855 The name of the firm is Messrs. Seguier & Smart, 6 Argyle Place, Regent Street, London", thence by family descent. Private Collection, London.
Leeds, Temple Newsham, on loan 1974 - 1976
Winchester Castle, on loan 1976 - 1996.
G.Knox, "Four Canaletti for the Duke of Bolton and Two 'Aide memoire' in Apollo, October 1993, pp. 245 - 49, figs. 1 & 3. J.G. Links, An Addendum to W.G. Constable's Canaletto, London, 1998, No. 85**, pp 9 - 10.
According to a tradition in the Clarke-Jervoise family(1), Charles Paulet, 3rd Duke of Bolton, bought this magnificent View of the Molo, looking North West, with the Palazzo Ducale, along with the three others consisting of;- the Bacino di S. Marco:Looking East(2), the Canal Grande from the Ca' de Mosto(3), and the Canal Grande from the Ca'Civran(4). The Duke bought all four directly from Canaletto during one of his frequent visits to Venice. If it is true that The Duke paid £100 for the four paintings, then this was a high price equal to some 200 sequins. In 1730 Hugh Howard paid Joseph Smith 35 sequins for two similar sized paintings and on the 10th March and 30th April 1731 Marshal Schulenberg paid Canaletto 32 and 30 sequins for pictures.
The Duke of Bolton was accompanied on his travels across Europe by his mistress. Miss Lavinia Fenton had abandoned the London stage in 1728 at the height of her success - she was the original Polly Peachum in The Beggars Opera - to follow her aristocratic lover(5). Miss Fenton left the stage with an agreement from the Duke that she was to receive £400 p.a during pleasure and £200 p.a. for life. She later bore the Duke three sons and finally married him in France in 1751 after the death of his first wife.
The View of the Molo is taken from the Bacino di S. Marco, off the Riva degli Schiavoni. The prison is shown to the right of the composition, followed by the Palazzo Ducale, its near corner cut by the Ponte della Paglia and with the Camponile rising behind it. There follows a glimpse of the Piazzetta with the Byzantine columns carrying the Lion of St. Mark and S. Teodoro, closed on the left by Jacopo Sansovino's Biblioteca Marciana and Zecca.
This painting is similar to the view in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle(signed and dated 24th October 1743), which is taken from a vantage point slightly farther back in the Bacino so as to include the Public Granaries on the left(6).
Whilst Joe Links dates this painting to around 1740, George Knox believes it was executed prior to 1735 due to topographical evidence in relation to Visenti's engravings.
The View of the Molo is a magnificent depiction of Venice's most famous facade, the Doges Palace. This splendid palace was much admired by Ruskin for its distinctive Gothic windows. It combines the monumental required to project the power of Venice's Ecclesiastical leader, the Doge, with a lightness and delicacy in its tracery that sums up the height of the Venetian Gothic. The pink sandstone catches the warm Venetian sun and Canaletto portrays the hustle and bustle of an afternoon on the waterfront. Gondoliers steady their craft and a mixture of tourists and locals walk along the promenade. A picture such as this sums up the achievement of Canaletto at his best and no-one before or after has ever managed to come so close to capturing the essence of Venice with all's its charm and eccentricity.
1. cf., Provenance.
2. Sold at Christies, London, Important Pictures by Old Masters, 27June 1975, lot.5;Sotheby's,London,HighlyImportantOld Master Paintings...........Property of a Gentleman, 1 November 1978, Lot 51. With Lindsay Fine Art 1992.
3. Sold at Christies, London, Important Pictures by Old Masters, 27th June 1976, Lot 6; Sotheby's, London, Highly Important Old Master Paintings.......Property of a Gentleman, Lot 52, unsold. Exhibited Colnaghi, New York, Views from the Grand Tour, May - June 1983, no. 3, illustrated in colour.
4. With Colnaghi, London, 1997.
5. Paulet is said to have lost his heart to Mrs Fenton when she came forward to sing "Oh! ponder well, be not severe." Not all the Duke's contemporaries shared his opinion of her charms: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, comparing the virtuous and long suffering duchess with the actress, noted acidly that Polly(Mrs Fenton)....."bred in an alehouse and produced on the stage, found the way to be esteemed. So useful is early experience!"(Quoted by T. Seccombe, in The Dictionary of National Biography, XLIV, London, 1895, ad vocem).
6. W.G. Constable, Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697 - 1768, 2nd edition, revised by J.G. Links, reissued with supplement and additional plates, London, 1989, I, p. 225, no. 85,II, pl.26.
7. cf., Literature.