Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712 - 1793), An architectural capriccio with figures amongst classical ruins, a temple beyond. Photo Sotheby's
oil on panel, oval; 10 3/4 by 8 5/8 in.; 27.3 by 21.9 cm. Estimation: 100,000 - 150,000 USD
PROVENANCE: With Derek Johns, London;
Where purchased by Giancarlo Baroni.
EXHIBITED: New York, Master Paintings and Sculpture, Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., 16 January - 31 February 2003, no. 15a (where loaned by Giancarlo Baroni).
NOTE DE CATALOGUE: This Architectural capriccio with figures among classical ruins appears to be unique in Guardi's oeuvre as an homage to Giovanni Paolo Panini, an artist whose work must have been familiar to him, at least through engravings. It replicates Panini's composition for Les Trois Colonnes de Campo Vaccino, known to us now only through an engraving by Elisabeth Cousinet-Lempereur (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, see fig. 1).1 Panini's painting, along with its pendant, The Prediction of a Sybil with the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, was engraved while in the collection of Claude-Henri Watelet's mistress, Madame Maguerite Le Comte and David Marshall asserts that the paintings were most likely acquired during the couple's sojourn in Italy between 1763 and 1764 when Le Comte may even have met
Panini himself.2 Considering the orientation of the present work, it would appear Guardi lifted the composition from the engraving rather than from the Panini original, completing it in his own characteristic style.3
Painters of architectural capricci regularly borrowed subjects from one another's work to weave into their own compositions. Guardi, like Giovanni Ghisolfi and Giovanni Paolo Panini, repeated motifs and employed them in a variety of ways to produce diverse themes in his paintings. In Panini's original composition, for example, the artist included the Belvedere chiton torso; the figure of a woman pointing, with a reclining figure at her feet; and the round temple, loosely based on the Temple of Sybil at Tivoli; all of which are distinct motifs used by Ghisolfi before him.4
We are grateful to David Marshall for endorsing an attribution to Francesco Guardi on the basis of photographs.
1. D. Marshall, "Early Panini Reconsidered: The Esztergom Preaching Of An Apostle and the Relationship between Panini and Ghisolfi", in Artibus et Historiae, an art anthology, vol. 36 (XVIII) 1997, p. 147, reproduced fig. 14.
2. Ibid., p. 147, reproduced p. 146, fig. 12. Previously given to Ghisolfi, Arisi attributes it to Panini on the basis of the two engravings; see F. Arisi, Gian Paolo Panini e I fast della Roma del '700, Rome 1986, p. 239, cat. no. 44.
3. Ibid., p. 147, reproduced fig. 14.
4. Ibid., pp. 147 and 149.
Sotheby's. Property from the Estate of Giancarlo Baroni. New York | 29 janv. 2013 www.sothebys.com