Enfilade

At Sotheby’s | The Female Triumphant

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 3, 2019

Press release (30 January 2019), from Sotheby’s:

The Master Paintings Evening Sale, N10007
Sotheby’s, New York, 30 January 2019

Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, 1788. The painting of India’s ambassador to France sold for $7.2million, surpassing it’s high estimate of $6million.

Sale of Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan establishes a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era.

Sotheby’s annual Masters Week sales series kicked off on Wednesday in New York, with 170 paintings and drawings sold across two auctions for an overall total of $67.8 million. The day began with Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s drawing of a Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms (Lot 15) selling for $8.2 million—a new world auction record for any drawing by the iconic artist. That result helped propel the Old Master Drawings Sale (N10006) to a $15.1 million total, which itself marks the highest total for this category in Sotheby’s history. The Master Paintings Evening Sale (N10007) included the work of groundbreaking female artists of the 16th–19th centuries and established multiple auction records, most notably for Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, whose Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan (Lot 48) achieved an incredible $7.2 million—a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era.

Sotheby’s Masters Week series continued through Saturday, with online sales of Old Masters and 19th Century European Art open for bidding through 6 February. Below is a look at some of the highlights that drove the results of Wednesday’s auctions:

The Female Triumphant

To highlight this year’s Masters Week sales series, Sotheby’s assembled a group of works by female artists of the pre-Modern era, celebrating the lives and important work of these groundbreaking women. Titled The Female Triumphant, the group features major paintings, drawings and sculpture created by leading female artists from the 16th through the 19th centuries.

Angelika Kauffmann, Portrait of Three Children, Likely Lady Georgina Spencer (Later Duchess of Devonshire), Lady Henrietta Spencer, and George Viscount Althorp, ca. 1766–70, oil on canvas.

Calvine Harvey, Specialist in Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department in New York, commented: “The number of Old Master female artists who succeeded and are known to us today remains incredibly few: in 2018, Sotheby’s sold only 14 works by female Old Masters, compared to 1,100 male artists. It’s important to remember that the obstacles women artists of the pre-Modern era faced were substantial, and those that broke down those barriers were truly triumphant. It was therefore such a thrill to see strong prices throughout our initial offering of works from The Female Triumphant—none more so than the monumental portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun that achieved a new auction record for any work by a female artist of the pre-Modern era. With additional records established for the work Fede Galizia, Angelica Kauffmann, and Giulia Lama, the market clearly responded to the work of these groundbreaking women, including both new and established collectors.”

The initial offering of The Female Triumphant collection featured the top lot of tonight’s auction: Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s life-sized Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, which achieved an astounding $7.2 million, a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era. Painted in the summer of 1788 and exhibited at the Salon of 1789, when political unrest had begun to boil in France, the work stands today as a symbolic testament to the relationship between Pre-Revolutionary France and India.

Fede Galizia, A Glass Compote with Peaches, Jasmine Flowers, Quinces, and a Grasshopper, oil on panel.

Works from The Female Triumphant established additional auction records for Fede Galizia, Angelika Kauffmann, and Giulia Lama. A pioneer of the still life genre, which she helped invent in the early 17th-century, Fede Galizia’s A Glass Compote with Peaches, Jasmine Flowers, Quinces, and a Grasshopper (Lot 42) achieved $2.4 million (estimate $2/3 million). Although she produced fewer than 20 refined, naturalistic still life compositions on panel, these works inspired followers in her lifetime and are now considered her most important paintings.

One of the wealthiest families in England, the young generation of Spencers likely depicted in Angelika Kauffmann’s Portrait of Three Children (Lot 52), sold for $915,000, surpassing its high estimate of $800,000. One of the most cultured and influential women of her generation, Angelika Kauffmann holds a place of particular importance in European art history as one of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy.

The full press release is available here

More information about Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan is available here

Lecture | Susan Rather, “Constructing the American School”

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 3, 2019

Susan Rather, “Constructing the American School”
The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., 7 February 2019

The Smithsonian American Art Museum invites you to join Dr. Susan Rather, Professor of Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, for a lecture entitled “Constructing the American School” on Thursday, 7 February 2019, at 4:00pm EST at the museum.

Professor Rather is the author of The American School: Artists and Status in the Late Colonial and Early National Era (New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016), which was awarded the 2018 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum–in addition to winning the New England Society Book Award for Art and being short-listed for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History.

What did it mean to be an artist in the 18th- and early-19th-century Anglophone world, and how did artists come to be regarded as professionals distinct from artisan makers? Professor Rather addresses how she came to this project and how it developed, as well as the benefits of mining even the most familiar or the slightest textual evidence. Following brief consideration of well-known painters (Copley, West, and Stuart) who successfully engineered their own legacy, the lecture focuses on the necessity, challenges, and rewards of restoring non-elite painters to the narrative of American art at its beginnings.

Those unable to attend the lecture can watch a live webcast here»

New Book | Kunstmarkt und Kunstbetrieb in Rom, 1750–1850

Posted in books by Editor on February 3, 2019

From De Gruyter:

Hannelore Putz and Andrea Fronhöfer, eds., Kunstmarkt und Kunstbetrieb in Rom, 1750–1850: Akteure und Handlungsorte (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019), 304 pages, ISBN 978-3110621884, €100 / $115. Series: Bibliothek des Deutschen Historischen Instituts in Rom 137.

Rom erlebte in der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts und in den ersten Jahrzehnten des 19. Jahrhunderts tiefgreifende politische Umbrüche und ökonomische Krisen. Gleichzeitig prägte es als Kunstmetropole wie kein anderer Ort die europäischen Künstler und Kunstszene sowie den Kunstmarkt zwischen Klassizismus und Romantik. Hier studierten die jungen Maler, Bildhauer und Architekten antike und nachantike Kunstobjekte. Sie bildeten sich bei den zeitgenössischen Künstlern fort und nahmen im gegenseitigen Austausch kreativ Impulse auf. Auf dem in Europa rasch an Bedeutung gewinnenden freien Kunstmarkt trieb gerade der schier unerschöpfliche römische Sekundärmarkt (Handel mit Kunstobjekten, die sich auf dem Markt befinden), zu dem auch der Handel mit Antiken gehörte, auch den Primärmarkt (Handel mit „atelierfrischen“ Objekten) an. Der Tagungsband nimmt dieses lebendige und pulsierende Kunstgeschehen in den Blick. Er untersucht Produzenten, Agenten, Verkäufer und Käufer, widmet sich Verhandlungen um Preis und Wert und stellt auch die Frage nach dem Einfluss von Künstlern und Käufern auf die Produktion und Rezeption von Werken Bildender Kunst.

Hannelore Putz, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; Andrea Fronhöfer, Oberhausmuseum Passau.

I N H A L T

Hannelore Putz, Andrea Fronhöfer, Vorwort

• Hannelore Putz, Kunstmarkt und Kunstbetrieb in Rom in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts: Eine Hinführung
• Paolo Coen, Fra tutela e mercato: Johann Joachim Winckelmann Commissario alle Antichità e Belle Arti
• Clare Hornsby, ‘Rome … to say the Truth Seems to be in a most Tottering State’: The Contrasting Fortunes of Some British Artist-Dealers, 1797–1805
• Gabriele B. Clemens, Die Kunstverkäufe des römischen Adels: Eine Basis neuer europäischer Sammlungen
• Valeria Rotili, L’atelier di Carlo Albacini tra collezionismo e mercato
• Marina Unger, Durand’sche Preise: Archäologie zwischen Wissenschaft und Kunstmarkt im Rom der 1830er Jahre
• Johannes Erichsen, Mehr als ein Sammler: König Ludwig I. von Bayern und die Korona der Kunst
• Mathias René Hofter, Winckelmann und die Kunstkäufe Ludwigs I. von Bayern
• Stefan Morét, Martin von Wagner (1777–1858): Ein Bildhauer und Maler im Dienst König Ludwigs I. von Bayern als Kenner und Käufer von Gemälden
• Johanna Selch, Der Kunstagent und sein Netzwerk. Johann Martin von Wagner in Rom
• Anne Viola Siebert, ‘… so bringen wir noch in Hannover so viel zusammen, um den Geschmack zu wecken’: August Kestner als Kunstkenner und Sammler in Rom, 1817–1853
• Susanne Adina Meyer, ‘Prima di partire’: Orte, Akteure und Strategien des römischen Ausstellungswesens, 1750–1840
• Andreas Stolzenburg, Franz Ludwig Catels Engagement für die deutsche Künstlerschaft in Rom und die Gründung des Pio Istituto Catel

Personen- und Ortsregister

Exhibition | Bellotto at the Court of Saxony

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 2, 2019

Bernardo Bellotto, The Zwinger Complex in Dresden, 1751–52, oil on canvas (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, photo by Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut).

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From the Kimbell:

The Lure of Dresden: Bellotto at the Court of Saxony
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 10 February — 28 April 2019

Bernardo Bellotto (1722–1780) is recognized as one of the greatest view painters in history, acquiring his fame in mid-18th-century Dresden as the court painter for the elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II—who was also King Augustus III of Poland. Over the course of a decade, Bellotto produced dozens of breathtaking depictions of the city and its environs, most measuring over eight feet in width. The success and renown of these grand, expansive works would earn Bellotto prestigious commissions at prominent courts throughout Europe.

Bellotto’s magnificent paintings of Dresden are now in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) of the Dresden State Art Collections and will be on loan to the Kimbell Art Museum for the special exhibition The Lure of Dresden: Bellotto at the Court of Saxony. They will be accompanied by portraits and allegories of the elector and his queen, as well as view paintings of Venice and Saxony by Bellotto’s uncle and teacher Antonio Canaletto and Dresden court painter Alexander Thiele. Visitors to the exhibition will have the unique opportunity to view the majesty that was Dresden in the 1700s. One of the greatest cities of 18th-century Europe, it is only now, following its near-total destruction in the Second World War, being rebuilt to its former glory—with the aid of Bellotto’s pictorial legacy.

This exhibition is organized by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in cooperation with the Kimbell Art Museum.

 

Exhibition | Futuruins

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 1, 2019

Now on view at the Palazzo Fortuny:

Futuruins
Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 19 December 2018 — 24 March 2019

Curated by Daniela Ferretti and Dimitri Ozerkov with Dario Dalla Lana

Over 250 works from the Venetian Civic Museums and the State Hermitage Museum, as well as from other Italian and international public and private collections, illustrate the multiple meanings attributed to ruins through the centuries: from the architectural and sculptural remains of the Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Assyrian-Babylonian and Syrian civilisations, to contemporary art that looks at the physical and moral ruins of today’s society—ruins of its architecture, cities and suburbs, but also of men and ideas, as the result of time, negligence, degeneration, natural or political tragedies such as war and terrorism.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, View of the Foundations of the Theater of Marcellus, detail, from Antichità Romane, volume 4, 1756–57 (Venice: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Museo Fortuny).

As a result of the collaboration between the City of Venice, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, and the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg—strengthened by the agreements signed in recent years and the presence of ‘Ermitage Italia’ in the lagoon city—and following Dimitri Ozerkov’s proposal, Palazzo Fortuny will host the exhibition Futuruins from 19 December 2018 to 24 March 2019.

The exhibition reflects on the theme of ruins: an allegory for the inexorable passage of time, always uncertain and changeable, disputed between past and future, life and death, destruction and creation, nature and culture. The aesthetics of ruins is a crucial element in the history of Western civilisation. The ruin as concept symbolises the presence of the past but at the same time contains within itself the potential of the fragment: a fragment that comes from antiquity, covered by the patina of time, which with its cultural and symbolic implications also becomes a valid ‘foundation stone’ for building the future. It comes from the past, confers a wealth of meaning on the present, and offers an awareness to future projects.

The contemporary itinerary opens with the extraordinary environmental installation by Anne and Patrick Poirier and is followed by works by Acconci Studio, Olivio Barbieri, Botto & Bruno, Alberto Burri, Sara Campesan, Ludovica Carbotta, Ugo Carmeni, Lawrence Carroll, Giulia Cenci, Giacomo Costa, Roberto Crippa, Lynn Davis, Giorgio de Chirico, Federico de Leonardis, Marco Del Re, Paola De Pietri, Jean Dubuffet, Tomas Ewald, Cleo Fariselli, Kay Fingerle, Maria Friberg, Luigi Ghirri, Gioberto Noro, John Gossage, Thomas Hirschhorn, Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Jodice, Wolfgang Laib, Hiroyuki Masuyama, Jonatah Manno, Mirco Marchelli, Steve McCurry, Ennio Morlotti, Sarah Moon, Margherita Muriti, Claudio Parmiggiani, Lorenzo Passi, Fabrizio Prevedello, Dmitri Prigov, Judit Reigl, Christian Retschlag, David Rickard, Mimmo Rotella, Anri Sala, Alberto Savinio and Elisa Sighicelli. In line with the tradition of exhibitions at the Fortuny, there are also a series of works specifically made for Futuruins that offer new stimuli for reflection on the present, works by Franco Guerzoni, Christian Fogarolli, Giuseppe Amato, Renato Leotta, and Renata De Bonis.

Between the two chronological extremes of the exhibition, there is a series of masterpieces in various media—paintings, sculptures, applied arts, graphic works—to suggest the major themes being examined. Many have been selected from Venetian collections—ranging from the jellyfish by Arturo Martini and Franz von Stuck to the fire-lit nocturnal ruins of Ippolito Caffi and Urbino-made ceramics bearing themes of genesis and death—while others come from museums and private collections. For its part, the State Hermitage Museum has loaned more than 80 works by such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Monsù Desiderio, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Jacopo and Francesco Bassano, Parmigianino, Veronese, Jacob van Host the Elder, Arturo Nathan, and Alessandro Algardi.

The contemporary relevance of ruins has been made apparent in the light of recent history, characterised by wars in which iconic and symbolic aspects stand out (the collapse of the Twin Towers, the devastation of the Baghdad museum, Palmyra…) and of the increasingly extreme climate changes on our planet.

Dimitri Ozerkov, ed., with contributions by Dimitri Ozerkov, Mikhail Piotrovsky, and Gabriella Belli, Futuruins: The Future of Ruins and Ruins of the Future (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2019), 816 pages, ISBN 978-3775745413 (English edition), €50.

Exhibition | Anton Maria Zanetti and His Collections

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 1, 2019

The exhibition closed a few weeks ago, but the catalogue is available from ArtBooks.com:

A Life as a Work of Art: Anton Maria Zanetti and His Collections
Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice, 29 September 2018 — 7 January 2019

Curated by Alberto Craievich

Anton Maria Zanetti (1679–1767) was a central figure in the eighteenth-century history of Venetian collecting and in the world’s endorsement of Venetian art. An art patron and influential intermediary on behalf of nobles and sovereigns, commissioning and purchasing works by Venice’s most famous artists, Zanetti was perhaps the most influential character in the Venetian art scene of the time. Known as ‘il Vecchio’, or ‘di Girolamo’—to distinguish him from his namesake younger cousin, a famous librarian at the Marciana Library in Venice—Zanetti was not only a passionate collector but also a talented draughtsman and skilled engraver.

After his father’s death in 1711, he was forced to provide for the rest of the family as an insurance agent, but despite difficulties, this did not prevent him from following his own inclinations. A friend to artists such as Canaletto, Rosalba Carriera, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, and Giambattista Tiepolo, Zanetti was in close contact with the most important European collectors. He himself assembled an extraordinary collection of antique gems, drawings, and prints that was dispersed after his death. He also promoted splendid publishing initiatives, most notably two volumes on ancient sculpture, now conserved in the vestibule of the Marciana Library and one of the most beautiful and luxurious illustrated publications of the entire eighteenth century. An inexhaustible collection of letters, now spread among libraries and private collectors, documents his dense network of relationships and friendships and offers a rare insight into the cultural life of the period.

To commemorate this extraordinary figure, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia presents an exhibition highlighting Zanetti’s activities as an artist and patron. Testimonies from his life in the form of books, letters, engravings, and drawings—none of which are usually exhibited for conservation reasons—will be shown together with art from his collection, including works by Tiepolo, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Palma il Giovane, and others, now preserved in the city’s museums, including the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, the Giorgio Cini Foundation, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, and Venice’s civic museums, as well as in several private collections.

Alberto Craievich, La Vita Come Opera d’Arte: Anton Maria Zanetti e le sue collezioni (Antiga: Crocetta del Montello, 2018), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-8884351029, €38 / $60 (on sale for $42).

Seminar | Matthew Hargraves on Watercolor

Posted in graduate students, opportunities by Editor on January 31, 2019

J. M. W. Turner, The Pass at St. Gotthard, near Faido, 1843, watercolor over graphite
(New York: The Morgan Library & Museum, 2006.52)

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From the seminar flyer:

Seminar on Watercolor with Matthew Hargraves
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 15 March 2019

Applications due by 1 February 2019

The Morgan Library & Museum has an extensive collection of drawings from the Renaissance to the present, many of which feature the use of colored washes. Participants in this graduate seminar will look closely at the use of watercolor by artists of different schools, with a particular focus on the widespread use of the medium during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain. From around 1750 to 1850, the period typically considered to be watercolor’s ‘golden age’, the medium came to be seen as a distinctively British art. In fact, however, watercolor had been used across Europe for centuries, and this seminar will examine the origins of watercolor, its adoption and development by British artists in the eighteenth century, and the spread of watercolor as a drawing medium in the Romanic period. Among the sheets examined will be examples by Albrecht Dürer, William Blake, Caspar David Friedrich, Eugène Delacroix, and J.M.W. Turner. The seminar will begin at 10am and last until 4pm.

Matthew Hargraves is Chief Curator of Art Collections at Yale Center for British Art in New Haven.

This seminar is open to graduate students in the history of art. Interested participants are kindly
invited to submit a one paragraph statement, which should include the following:
• Name and email
• Academic institution, class year, and field of study
• Interest in drawings
• Reason/s for wanting to participate in the seminar

A brief recommendation from the student’s advisor is welcome but not required. Applications should be submitted electronically by 1 February 2019 with the subject header ‘Watercolor Seminar’ to: drawinginstitute@themorgan.org. Participants will be notified by 11 February 2019.

Call for Content | Instagram Series, Furniture History Society

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 31, 2019

From the Call for Content:

#CuratorsChoice
A Furniture History Society Instagram Series

The Furniture History Society has recently joined Instagram, @furniturehistorysociety. Following the success of our ongoing Instagram series #ChippendaleTuesday we will shortly launch another titled #CuratorsChoice. This series will highlight the work of curators engaged in the research of decorative arts, specifically furniture, interiors and archives relating to such. This platform will provide a conversational way for curators to highlight objects in their collections, exhibitions they are preparing or indeed discoveries they have made.

Getting involved is simple:
1. Choose your topic.
2. Write approximately three short sentences about it. Feel free to use a more casual and conversational style than one might for an article or talk.
3. Pick your image or images.
4. Send us the above and, if you have one, your Instagram handle. We will take care of weaving the information together and posting to our account.

No matter if you have a fully formed idea or post, or indeed are interested in this project and would like to know more, please feel free to contact, Natalie Voorheis on natalievoorheis@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

The Furniture History Society (FHS) was founded in 1964 to study furniture of all periods, places and kinds, to increase knowledge and appreciation of it, and to assist in the preservation of furniture and its records.

Eighteenth-Century Studies, Winter 2019

Posted in books, journal articles, reviews by Editor on January 30, 2019

The latest issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies includes a forum in memory of Mary Sheriff, edited by Jennifer Germann and Michael Yonan. Their introduction brilliantly situates Mary’s role within eighteenth-century art history, making sense of the field in relation to ASECS (and implicitly, HECAA). It works not only as a tribute to a much loved scholar; it’s among the best institutional historiography I’ve ever encountered in just three pages. –CH

Eighteenth-Century Studies 52 (Winter 2019)

Forum in Memory of Mary D. Sheriff

• Jennifer Germann and Michael Yonan, “Mary Sheriff and ASECS,” pp. 151–54.
• Dena Goodman, “On History and Art History (and Women, of course),” pp. 155–58.
• Tili Boon Cuillé, “Songs of Sorrow: Bardic Women in Girodet, Ossian, and Staël,” pp. 159–65.
• Christopher M. S. Johns, “Making History at the Capitoline Museum: Maria Tibaldi Subleyras’s Christ in the House of Simon the Pharisee,” pp. 167–71.
• Kathleen Nicholson, “Having the Last Word: Rosalba Carriera and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture,” pp. 173–77.
• Melissa Hyde, “Something About Mary,” pp. 179–82.

Research Essays

• Samuel Rowe, “Beckford’s Insatiable Caliph: Oriental Despotism and Consumer Society,” pp. 183–99.
• Stephanie O’Rourke, “Histories of the Self: Anne-Louis Girodet and the Trioson Portrait Series,” pp. 201–23.
• Celestina Savonius-Wroth, “Bardic Ministers: Scotland’s Gaelic-speaking Clergy in the Ossian Controversy,” pp. 225–43.
• Juliane Engelhardt, “Anxiety, Affect, and the Performance of Feelings in Radical Pietism: Towards a Topography of Religious Feelings in Denmark-Norway in the Early Enlightenment,” pp. 245–61.

Review Essay

• Melvyn New, Review of The Letters of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. by Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy (Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 263–70.

Book Reviews

• Mary McAlpin, Review of The Woman Question in France, 1400–1870 by Karen Offen (Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 271–72.
• Mary Beth Harris, Review of Masculinity, Militarism and Eighteenth-Century Culture, 1689–1815 by Julia Banister (Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 273–74.
• Elizabeth C. Libero, Review of Disciplining the Empire: Politics, Governance, and the Rise of the British Navy by Sarah Kinkel (Harvard University Press, 2018), pp. 275–76.

Books Received, pp. 277–78.

Exhibition | Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 29, 2019

Caspar van Wittel, Piazza Navona, 1699, oil on canvas, 97 × 216 cm (Madrid: Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan at the Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza).

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Now on view at the Kunsthal KAdE:

Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape / Hollandse meester van het Italiaanse stadsgezicht
Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, 26 January — 5 May 2019

Kunsthal KAdE and Museum Flehite introduce the Netherlands to a world-renowned Dutch master who remained largely unknown in his country of birth, the Netherlands. Caspar Adriaensz van Wittel (1653–1736), also known as Gaspare Vanvitelli, became famous and revered in his adopted homeland of Italy. During the 17th and 18th century, he painted Rome, Naples, and Venice in minute detail, influencing famous Italian cityscape painters such as Canaletto and Bellotto. Van Wittel was born in Amersfoort, left around 1673 for Italy, earned a good reputation for himself there, and never returned to the Netherlands. Today, the vast majority of his works are in collections in Italy, England, and Spain. In the Netherlands, there are only a few drawings and a single gouache: View of Amersfoort in Museum Flehite. With the exhibition Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape, Museum Flehite and Kunsthal KAdE honour this master with a major retrospective from 26 January through 5 May 2019. It puts his extensive oeuvre in the context of his Dutch learning period and his influence on the later Italian vedutisti.

The exhibition at Kunsthal KAdE presents the entire Van Wittel story: the places he painted, the style he developed, his Dutch roots, his high-born patrons, and his undeniable influence in Italy. With this retrospective, Museum Flehite and Kunsthal KAdE want to give Caspar van Wittel his place in the canon of Dutch art history as maestro of the Italian cityscape.

Van Wittel’s Dutch Period

Caspar van Wittel was a student of Matthias Withoos, who had trained at Jacob van Campen’s painting school at the Randenbroek country estate in Amersfoort. Withoos’ masterpiece is his View of Amersfoort; commissioned in 1671 by the city government at the time, it was painted in the time that Van Wittel was training with him and therefore it is possible that the young student—he was 16 or 17 years old at the time—worked on it. Van Wittel relocated to Hoorn with Withoos in 1672. As a result of the move, he was neighbours with the painters Jan van der Heyden and Gerrit Berckheyde, who had developed a ‘pure’ rendering of the cityscape in Amsterdam and Haarlem. This ‘Dutch’ way of painting is conveyed in Van Wittel’s work.

Inventor of the Italian Cityscape

Accompanied by a fellow young painter—Jacob van Staverden—Van Wittel travelled to Rome sometime around 1673. In Rome, he found himself in the Dutch Schildersbent (‘painters’ clique’) faction of the Bentvueghels (‘birds of a feather’), a group that had been an artists’ colony for decades in the eternal city. In Rome, he became acquainted with the work of Lieven Cruyl and Abraham Genoels, who made topographic drawings of the city. He also met Cornelis Meyer, a mechanical engineer who was striving to land an assignment from the Pope to build water works along the Tiber. Meyer asked the young Caspar—now in his mid-20s—to help with the illustrations for the manuscript. One of the subjects that Van Wittel drew was Piazza del Popolo, the square where Van Wittel arrived in Rome from the north. Ultimately, he would paint this square some 15 times in his career, always from the same perspective.

From that moment (around 1680), Van Wittel also began capturing other places in Rome with his signature precision: the Tiber with its bridges and the Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks, the Piazza Navona, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Square, the Quirinal, Villa Borghese, churches, streets, and smaller squares. He often repeated these compositions numerous times, too, working from a single basic drawing. From Rome he travelled to Naples, the countryside surrounding Rome (Tivoli), Florence, and Venice. In the lagoon city of Venice, he captured the view of San Marco and the Doge’s Palace from the water. He painted the majestic La Salute church at the entrance to the Grand Canal. Nowadays it belongs to the standard repertoire of Venetian cityscape painting, but Van Wittel was the first to paint it.

Van Wittel Inspires Canaletto

Around 1719, the young Venetian painter Antonio Canal was in Rome to paint several decorative pieces with his father. It is highly likely that he met Van Wittel during this time and saw a number of his Venetian cityscapes. Filled with inspiration, Canal, who would quickly be called Canaletto, dedicated himself entirely to this subject. At the time, the Grand Tour—an educational trip for young members of the nobility—became incredibly popular and Canaletto, together with his cousin Bernardo Bellotto, became the go-to painters of Venetian cityscapes that were snapped up by the travellers. Incidentally, Van Wittel led the way here, too; he had provided Grand Tour travellers—including Thomas Coke—with these sorts of ‘picture postcards’. Upon his return to England, Coke built Holkham Hall in the north of Norfolk, which was inspired in part by his travels in Italy and the work of architect Palladio.

Once he arrived in Rome, Van Wittel established an extensive network of patrons that included not only Roman aristocracy such as the Sacchetti and Colonna families—in whose palaces he took up residence from time to time—but also the Spanish nobleman Medinaceli, who lived in Rome as an ambassador, became the viceroy of Naples in 1696 and commissioned a total of 35 paintings by Van Wittel, most of which were views of Naples and around the city.

Photographer Wilschut Follows in Van Wittel’s Footsteps

As part of the exhibition, Rotterdam photographer Hans Wilschut was asked to follow in Van Wittel’s footsteps and capture a number of the places in Rome, Naples, Venice, and Amersfoort that Van Wittel frequently painted. Some of these places have remained essentially the same; some have been completely transformed. Just as Van Wittel liked to capture the urban hustle and bustle in his cityscapes at the time, Wilschut shows people today in the iconic settings. Hans Wilschut is also featured in the exhibition Stadsbeelden (‘Cityscapes‘) at Museum Flehite, from 9 February through 19 May 2019.

Works from International Collections in Amersfoort

The exhibition presents around 45 paintings and gouaches and approximately 30 drawings by Van Wittel from Italian, English, Spanish, German, and French collections. In addition, there are about 30 paintings and drawings by Dutch and Italian masters.

An events programme to accompany the exhibition will be organised in cooperation with the Friends of Caspar van Wittel Foundation. Bekking & Blitz will publish an exhibition catalogue in Dutch and English. This is the first time that a monograph on the artist will be available in these languages. The catalogue costs €30.

The exhibition Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape is made possible by the generous support of the Turing Foundation, the Mondriaan Fund, Fonds 21, the Municipality of Amersfoort, the Cultural Heritage Agency, and the Province of Utrecht.