Notable Sales European Paintings
Exeter 1725 - 1782 Florence
View of the Arno with the Ponte Santa Trinità, Florence
94 x 134.5 cm
Signed and dated 1769
Probably Sir Richard Tempest (recorded in Florence 1789-90) of Broughton Hall, Skipton, North Yorkshire.
Possibly Sir Stephen Tempest (recorded in Florence 1818).
Sir Charles Tempest (recorded in his will at Broughton Hall in 1865).
By descent through the Tempest Family.
Masterpieces from Yorkshire Houses, York
City Art Gallery, 29th January - 20th March 1994, No.49, p.87.
(For Patch’s life and work) F.J.B. Watson, Thomas Patch, Walpole Society, XXVIII, 1940, pp.15-50.
Thomas Patch went to Rome in 1747 where he entered the studio of Claude-Joseph Vernet and painted landscapes in his master’s style. In 1755 he was expelled from Rome by the Holy Office for reasons which are not entirely clear. He moved to Florence, where he remained for the rest of his life, enjoying the warm patronage of Sir Horace Mann, British envoy to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In Florence Patch painted souvenir views of the city for Grand Tourists and also caricature groups featuring British visitors.
This view of Florence was Patch’s favourite and he painted it several times (see Watson, nos.15-23). Looking east along the Arno he shows the Ponte Santa Trinità with, beyond, the Ponte Vecchio. On the skyline may be seen the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, centre, and the dome of the cathedral towards the left. In fact he based this view and other versions of it on an engraving by his friend Guiseppe Zocchi published in 1754 (see Watson, p.37). These paintings vary in small details from Zocchi’s engraving. They also vary from each other, principally in the boats and groups of figures but also in the lighting. Versions of this particular view, apparently without boats or figures, feature in two of Patch’s caricature groups - A Musical Party and The Music Lesson (Watson nos.3 and 9, pl.Xb).
Horace Walpole, having acquired two of Patch’s views of Florence, found them ‘a little hard’. The style which Patch developed for his topographical views of Florence certainly was hard and accurate and he is now beginning to be appreciated as one of the best of Florentine view painters. Watson has suggested, convincingly, that Patch’s technique resulted from seeing Canaletto’s paintings (in the Consul Smith collection) when he was in Venice in 1760 and that he might also have seen paintings by Bellotto, Canaletto’s nephew and pupil, who had worked in Florence in 1745.