A spectacular wide-margined and complete set of Canaletto etchings, in a contemporary binding together with a series by Marieschi
232. Canaletto, Antonio Canal called (1697-1768) - Marieschi, Michele (1710-1743)
Vedute Altre prese da i Luoghi altre ideate da Antonio Canal e da esso intagliate poste in prospetiva umiliate All’Ill.mo Signor Giuseppe Smith Console di S.M. Britannica appresso la Ser.ma Repubblica di Venezia. In segno di stima ed ossequio. [Venice, Giambattista Pasquali, after June 1744]. (bound with:) Marieschi, Michele (1710-1743). Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus, quos olim Michael Marieschi Venetus Pictor, et Architectus in plerisque tabulis depinxit. Nunc vero ab ipsomet acurate delineante, incidente, tijpisque mandante, iterum in sexdecim aeris tabulis in lucem aeduntur. Venice, at the author’s atelier, 1741.
Two works in one volume, large oblong folio (429x614mm). I. Thirty-one unnumbered etchings printed on eighteen leaves (for the different states see below). Bromberg nos. 1-11, 13-16, 18-33, as no. 12 is the undivided plate “Imaginary view of Venice”, known in only six impressions and later divided for unknown reasons by the artist into two plates (nos. 13 and 14), and as no. 17 is the small “Fragment of a Bishop's tomb” known only in one impression, at Windsor. Watermarks (both present on all sheets): three crescent moons with the letter 'A' (Bromberg, no. 22); stylized fleur-de-lis with the letters 'AS' (Bromberg, no. 43). II. Title-page bearing the portrait of the author drawn by Angelo Trevisani and etched by Carlo Orsolini, and twenty-one unnumbered views designed and etched by Marieschi, including the dedication to French nobleman Marc de Beauvau surmounted by a view of the Doge's Palace seen from the Canal Grande. Fine early impressions of the first state (of four) before numbering and with the plate of Campo San Rocco with its original baroque façade on the church. Watermarks (present alternatively): large crest with comet (star and flame), countermark: 'OLANDA'; comet (star and flame), countermark: initials 'FF' under coronet.
Contemporary Venetian vellum, over pasteboards. Covers within gilt floral frame. Spine in compartments decorated with gilt fleur-de-lis tool, title on red morocco lettering-piece. Marbled edges. Original flyleaves preserved bearing two watermarks: a bow and the initials 'AZc' (not mentioned in Bromberg). Corners slightly damaged, but very well preserved. A marvellous, wide-margined copy on thick paper, with very good impressions of the plates.
I. List of the thirty-one Canaletto etchings (ten in first state, eighteen in second, and three in third state, of variably 1, 2, 3 or 4 states):
1. Title plate “Vedute Altre prese da i Luoghi altre ideate...” (Bromberg 1, 2nd state of 2)
2. “La Torre di Malghera” (Bromberg 2, 2nd of 3)
3. “Mestre” (Bromberg 3, 1st of 2)
4. View of a Town on a River Bank (Bromberg 9, 1st of 2)
5. “Santa Giustina in Pra' della Valle” (Bromberg 7, 1st of 2)
6. “Prà della Valle” (Bromberg 8, 1st of 2)
7. “Alle Porte del Dolo” (Bromberg 5, 2nd of 3)
8. “Al Dolo” (Bromberg 4, 2nd of 3)
9. “Le Porte del Dolo” (Bromberg 6, 2nd of 3)
10. Imaginary View of Padua (Bromberg 11, 2nd of 3)
11. The Portico with the Lantern (Bromberg 10, 2nd of 3)
12. Imaginary View of Venice, two etchings on one leaf:
-The House with the Inscription (left half of undivided plate) (Bromberg 13, 1st of 1)
-The House with the Peristyle (right half of undivided plate) (Bromberg 14, 2nd of 2)
13. View of a Town with a Bishop's Tomb (Bromberg 16, 2nd of 2)
14. Four etchings on one leaf:
-“La Libreria” (Bromberg 18, 2nd of 3)
-“Le Procuratie” (Bromberg 25, 1st of 2)
-“La Piera del Bando” (Bromberg 19, 2nd of 3)
-“Le Preson” (Bromberg 21, 2nd of 3)
15. Four etchings on one leaf:
-The Terrace (Bromberg 24, 2nd of 3)
-The Market at Dolo (Bromberg 26, 3rd of 4)
-Imaginary View of S. Giacomo di Rialto (Bromberg 30, 1st of 2)
-The Market on the Molo (Bromberg 20, 3rd of 4)
16. Four etchings on one leaf:
-Landscape with the Pilgrim at Prayer (Bromberg 27, 3rd of 3)
-The Equestrian Monument (Bromberg 23, 1st of 1)
-Landscape with a Woman at a Well (Bromberg 29, 2nd of 3)
-Mountain Landscape with five Bridges (Bromberg 22, 2nd of 2)
17. Three etchings on one leaf:
-The Little Monument (Bromberg 33, 2nd of 2)
-The Bishop's Tomb (Bromberg 15, 1st of 1)
-The Wagon passing over a Bridge (Bromberg 32, 2nd of 2)
18. Two etchings on one leaf:
-Landscape with Ruined Monuments (Bromberg 31, 1st of 1)
-Landscape with Tower and two Ruined Pillars (Bromberg 28, 2nd of 2)
II. List of Marieschi etchings:
2. “Prospectus Urbis Venetiarum”
3. “Foscarorum Aedes”
4. “Forum Maius et Basilica D. Marci”
5. “Templum S. Mariae Salutis”
6. “Forum olitorium”
7. “Forum maius D. Marci aliter Prospectum”
8. “Pisaurorum familiae Aedes ...”
9. “Pars Canalis Magni se extendens a laeva”
10. “Platea ac templum D.D. Ioannis et Paoli”
11. “Templum et platea F.F. Ord ...”
12. “Ingressus in Urbem venienti e Clodia”
13. “Platea D. Bassi et suum Templum”
14. “Canale ...”
15. “Forum Minus D. Marci ...”
16. “Pons Rivoalti”
17. “Magnificum Aedium Divalium”
18. “Prospectus Canalis magni ...”
19. “Magni Armamentari Venetiarum”
20. “Templum cum Platea S. Mariae Formosae”
21. “Forum Minus Divi Marci”
22. “Aedis Divi Rocchi”
An extraordinary set, including all of Canaletto's published etchings together with Marieschi's beautiful series of etched views, two of the most impressive eighteenth-century series of views of Venice and surrounding areas ever made.
The present volume represents both a stunning work of art and a remarkable historical artifact. Firstly, it is very rare to see such a 'holistic' and authentic presentation of Canaletto etchings – bound as a complete volume and housed in its original binding – become available on the market: it is far more typical to find made-up albums, with etchings amassed from various sources. Furthermore, the Canaletto set is bound with an impressive series by Marieschi, all fine early impressions in the first state (of four), and both sets feature wide, beautifully preserved margins. The sheet size is uniform across the volume; because the platemarks of the Marieschi series are wider than those of the Canaletto, this means that the Marieschi margins are wide, and the Canaletto margins are even wider – a truly remarkable feature for any Canaletto etching (which tend to have smaller, or even trimmed margins), let alone for a complete set!
As Bromberg observes, etching was extraordinarily well suited to Canaletto's painterly style, and the pains he bestowed on the plates is evident from his frequent use of re-biting. Whereas his paintings characteristically portrayed the grand buildings of Venice, in the etchings Canaletto expressed his love of the Venetian countryside with its humble buildings and poor inhabitants. Further, the Vedute reveal Canaletto's great inventiness, in continuous play between fantasy and reality, as some imaginary views of Venice (pl. 12, Bromberg 13 and 14), or 'invented' details such as the lantern (pl. 11, “The Portico with the Lantern” Bromberg 10) or the sign on the façade of a building (pl. 7, “Le Porte del Dolo”, Bromberg 6) attest.
The exact date of issue for Canaletto's series is unknown, but it appears most likely to have been between 1744 – the year in which Joseph Smith (ca. 1682-1770), the dedicatee of the series, was appointed British consul at Venice – and 1746, the year of Canaletto's departure from Venice to London. Only one etching, the “Imaginary View of Venice” (Bromberg no. 12 before the division of the plate, and then nos. 13-14 after the division) bears a date: 1741. Nevertheless, the production of the prints clearly extended over a period of several years, probably beginning around 1735, shortly after the publication of Visentini's series of engravings after Canaletto.
Joseph Smith was already an established collector, patron and art dealer before meeting and working with Canaletto around 1728, and had an active role supporting the leading publishing firm of Giambattista Pasquali (1702-1784). As such, it is no coincidence that Antonio Visentini's series of etchings, Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum, all taken from Canaletto's paintings, was printed by Pasquali in 1735 (and, in a second enlarged edition, in 1742). It is probable that Canaletto began printmaking around this first publication in 1735, and that he may have even collaborated with Visentini to bring the latter's ambitious project to conclusion; the paper on which Canaletto's proof states were printed, seems to come from the same stock on which Visentini's series was published, i.e., from Pasquali's warehouse.
Canaletto started etching in a period when engraved views of Venice were becoming popular among tourists visiting Venice, as these buyers were attracted to their relative affordability compared to a painting of the same subject – and the ease with which they could be transported back over the Alps. Nevertheless, Smith probably commissioned the series from Canaletto without the intention of publishing and selling it to the same clientele who habitually purchased Canaletto's paintings. The publication of the etchings finally occurred only when Smith was appointed consul, in June 1744, as a tribute from Canaletto to his patron. The responsibility of printing was presumably given to Pasquali. Canaletto's total etched work consists of thirty-four plates, of which three are preserved as unique examples, and were excluded from the printed edition for unknown reasons. The etchings were published in both bound volumes, and were individually issued.
Differing plate sequences across bound volumes indicates that the decision regarding plate order was made by the printer, rather than the artist, and that the order of publication does not correspond to the order in which the etchings were created. A rough idea of order and date is nevertheless somewhat obtainable following the pioneering scholarship of Ruth Bromberg on Canaletto's printmaking. Through a comparative, qualitative study of different impressions, compiled albums, and the various watermarks of each sheet, one is able to establish an understanding regarding the dating and order of the artist's printed oeuvre.
In this copy, the order of the sheets containing more than one etching, corresponds to Bromberg's printing order D, which, as in the album she describes held at the Museo, Biblioteca, and Archivio of Bassano del Grappa, is associated with watermarks 22 and 43. The space (2-3 mm) between etchings nos. 13 and 14, which previously formed the undivided plate no. 12, is also consistent with the spacing found in the aforementioned album. Only the positioning of the four etchings in the sheet with “La Libreria”, “Le Procuratie”, “La Piera del Bando”, and “Le Preson”, differs from the three (D I-III) cited by Bromberg. Bromberg considers the printing of albums following order D as having been printed in the 1760s, presumably by Pasquali. As such it is probable that the copy presented here was printed sometime after the very first impressions of the 1740s, and before the late Remondini impressions of the 1770s.
Later publications of the series are known. The plates were re-issued by the Remondini family after Canaletto's death in 1768. These later Remondini editions are usually printed on a thinner paper bearing the watermark of the house, an 'R', and the signature and the title are also often erased alongside a decline in the quality of the impressions. According to their advertising catalogue of 1772, the Remondinis were then the owners of Canaletto's plates, but it is not known from whom they acquired them. When Consul Smith found himself in financial troubles in the late 1750s, he negotiated the sale of the entire warehouse of the Stamperia Pasquali to the booksellers Caraboli and Pompeati. The sale failed and presumably the plates remained with Pasquali, whereupon he republished them until Smith's death in 1770. We know that his widow sold the copperplates by Visentini to the publisher Ludovico Furlanetto, so we can presume that Remondini bought Canaletto's plates from her, shortly after the Consul's death in 1770. As stated above, the etchings made their first appearance in Remondini's 1772 catalogue; after 1778 the series was numbered.
“Canaletto brought to his etchings a painterly approach. The technique employed is not that of a professional etcher, but rather the painter, the fine draughtsman, working the etching needle with a certain freedom, much in the manner of drawings, the final aim being the achievement of 'colour'. Etching, which permits the artist the nervous strokes of a sketch, was a medium suited to Canaletto's temperament. His etchings owe much to the penwork of his drawings and the loosely handled short strokes, given contrast by variation of direction and intensity, produce luminous etchings in a distinctly individual style [...] Faced with a different technique, a new side of Canaletto's art emerges. Precluded is the instant vision of drawing, in its stead a laborious process begins. Each print becomes a challenge, and by comparing the states we have the possibility of following the artist's working method in his search for perfection. The innumerable additions and alterations make us realize with what infinite patience and love of detail Canaletto executed his plates. There is nothing casual about these etchings, the final result is meticulously sought after [...] Since the compositions are virtually complete after the first biting, the second [and following] state is characterized by technical precision [...] Although Canaletto's etched oeuvre is small, he obviously considered print-making an important activity in his life as an artist. [...] For his etchings, Canaletto found inspiration in portraying the Venetian countryside. The humble buildings and everyday occupations of its inhabitants took on the same poetic significance as the palaces and monuments of Venice. His most immediate concern to capture the atmosphere and particular illumination of the places portrayed is the quality which makes Canaletto's etchings outstanding” (Bromberg, pp. 5-13).
II. Like Canaletto, Marieschi was trained in his youth as both a stage designer and a stagehand. This experience is visible in all his productions; in the vedute paintings, which, over the years, became his main activity and interest, as well as in the engravings. Marieschi's series of etchings was published one year before the definitive edition of Antonio Visentini's Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum came to light in 1742. At its appearance in 1741, the Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus struck the audience with the power of a manifesto. Such exquisite quality and mastery of the etching technique, enhanced with bulino detailing, had never before been achieved. The precision with which all the details of the monuments were articulated and the illusory angular perspective of many of the views was unprecedented. To attain such incredible perspectives, Marieschi used a dark room with a quadrangular lens which created a visual field much wider than that of the human eye. If one compares Marieschi's views with the actual sites of the towns depicted, one is immediately struck by both the superb degree of detailing as well as the rather distorted perspectival frame.
Michele Marieschi dedicated himself to the art of etching only in the last years of his very short life; it was the perfect medium for making his skill as a vedutista known to a wider audience. Almost all of Marieschi's etchings are taken from his paintings, presumably with the purpose of promoting his own work. By this time, he was already enjoying a certain amount of popularity and was the protégé of the great art collector Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, but had he not died so young, the series of etchings he published in 1741 would almost certainly have brought him far more commissions and general renown. The series was indeed very successful; it was reprinted several times and had a great impact on many contemporary vedutisti who based their paintings on Marieschi's etchings.
On 5 May 1741, Marieschi obtained the privilege for sixteen prints, as stated in the title-page of the series. He completed the remaining five plates in the short time preceding his death (18 January 1743). The plates were later acquired by the printer Teodoro Viero, who re-issued them, adding a plate number in the bottom left-hand corner.
“Marieschi's etched vedute, created with a wide variety of strokes to suggest different textures, have a dramatic allure and whiff of intrigue suggested by some of the figural groups that give them a nervous energy absent from those of Carlevarijs and Visentini. Marieschi, like Canaletto, had been trained as stage designer, and like Canaletto he took liberties with the perspective, exaggerating the breadth of the city views as though they were stage sets” (S. Boorsch, Venetian Prints and Books in the Age of Tiepolo, p. 21).
I. R. Bromberg, Canaletto's Etchings, San Francisco 1993; R. Pallucchini - G.F. Guarnati, Le acqueforti del Canaletto, Venezia 1945; D. Succi, Canaletto & Visentini fra Venezia & Londra. Castello di Gorizia, 7 giugno-21 settembre 1986. Catalogo della mostra, Cittadella 1986; K. Baetjer - J.G. Links (eds.), Canaletto, New York 1989; F. Vivian, The Consul Smith Collection, Munich 1989; S. Boorsch (ed.), Celebrating Canaletto: Etchings from the collection of the Arthur Ross Foundation, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, New York, November 6-December 30, 1997, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida, January 22 - March 15, 1998, New York 1997; F. Montecuccoli degli Erri, Canaletto incisore, Venezia 2002. II. Millard 59; Cicognara 4040; Berlin Katalog 2697; D. Succi, Le incisioni di Michele Marieschi, Gorizia 1981, nos. 2-23; Pedrocco, 1-22; F. Mauroner, “Catalogue of the Complete Etchings of Michele Marieschi”, Print Collector's Quarterly, 27 (April 1940), no. 2, pp. 199-211; R. Toledano, Michele Marieschi, l'opera completa, Milano 1988, pp. 59-108; S. Boorsch, Venetian Prints and Books in the Age of Tiepolo, New York 1997; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 232.