next sale of Old Master paintings on July 8th in New Bond Street, offers stunning views of some of the highlights of The Grand Tour by some of the masters of the time.
Today, when the capturing of images by cameras, phone, video and film have become commonplace we forget the power and the impact and the privilege of having images of places one has visited. Many of the band of aristocratic travelers on the Continent during the height of the Grand Tour took the opportunity to return home with the modern equivalent of tourist snapshots. But few tourist snapshots will hold their enchantment or their value in the way that these breathtaking images have done for centuries.
Images of Venice, Rome, Florence, the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius, pulse with life and colour in images that must have kept alive the journey of a lifetime for those lucky enough to undertake them and for their descendants. Today we are fortunate to be able to follow in their footsteps and see the views they saw thanks to a development that allowed artists to tackle images of a non-religious nature.
The images are filled with quiet space and a noticeable lack of commercialism, there is no evidence of corporate signage, or indeed much hustle and bustle. The paintings seem to indicate that there is space and time aplenty. There are images of feasting, a musician and rampant bird life, all snapshot-memories captured on the trip of a lifetime.
Among the best of these images are pictures by Locatelli, Carlevarijs, Antoniani, Zuccarelli, van Oost, van Kessel and Bocchi.
Luca Carlevarijs (Udine 1663-1730 Venice) offers us an image of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. An oil on canvas it is estimated at £500,000-700,000. It was commissioned by Stefano Conti (Lucca, 1654-1739), then owned (?) probably by Filippo Fatinelli, and then probably by descent to Gasparo Massoni and thence by descent to the Marquis and Marquise Piero Massoni-Errera.
Jan van Kessel the Elder (Antwerp 1626-1679) shows a fantastical image titles A concert of birds, signed with initials and dated 'I.V.K. F. Ao. 1667' (lower right). An oil on canvas it is estimated at £300,000-400,000.
Andrea Locatelli (Rome 1693-circa 1741) shows a view of the Tiber looking towards the Castel Sant' Angelo, with Saint Peter's in the distance, is an oil on canvas estimated to sell for £150,000-250,000. It was acquired circa 1949 by the present owner's parents. Formerly hanging at Inglewood House, Devon, and thence by descent.
Francesco Zuccarelli (Pitigliano 1702-1788 Florence) provides an Italianate landscape with washerwomen beside a waterfall and horsemen and their dogs approaching; and An Italianate landscape with a beggar beside a country path, a village in the distance. This pair of oils on paper, laid down on canvas is estimated at £50,000-80,000. They were acquired by the present owner's family circa 1930, and thence by descent.
Pietro Antoniani (Milan circa 1740-1805) shows us the breathtaking bay of Naples with the eruption of Vesuvius seen from the Riviera di Chiaia. An oil on canvas it is estimated to attract bids in the region of £50,000-70,000.
And as the artist-camera turns around to see its human subject, Jacob van Oost I (Bruges 1601-1671) captures a young man at a stone window playing a musical instrument. An oil on canvas it is estimated at £50,000-80,000.
Acquired by Jean-François Michiels in Saint Petersburg, circa 1854 for his collection in Bruges it was passed on to his daughters, Coralie and Léonie Michiels, 1907, and thence by family descent to the present owner.
The present owner's ancestor, Jean-François Michiels, who acquired the painting, was a photographer and member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Bruges. After having taught the art of photography to the Crown Prince of Prussia (the future Emperor Frederick III), Michiels travelled to Saint Petersburg in order to make a photographic record of the major paintings in the Hermitage. There he acquired a number of paintings, by mostly Dutch and Flemish masters, including the present work and others by David Teniers the Younger and Frans Hals. An inventory exists for the insurance valuation of the Michiels Collection in 1907, which includes the present painting.
And finally Francesco Tironi (Venice circa 1745-1797) provides the image of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. An oil on canvas it is estimated at £30,000-50,000.