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Sotheby's New York to offer an extraordinary collection of 18th- & 19th-century paintings
Bernardo Bellotto, A Capriccio River Landscape with a Church to the Left, oil on canvas (est. $1,000,000/1,500,000). Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced the sale The Road to Rome: A Distinguished Italian Private Collection, Part I during Masters Week in New York on 28 January 2016, comprising of 35 view and portrait paintings that display splendid overview of Grand Tour taste.

Throughout the 18th-century, young aristocrats partook in the Grand Tour, visiting Italian cities including Venice, Naples and Rome as the culmination of their academic studies. Inspired by their voyages, many of these travelers developed an interest in art and sat for some of the great portrait painters of the time, or immortalized their adventures by purchasing view paintings. Many of the great artistic talents of the time including Vanvitelli, Bellotto, the Van Lint family, Hackert and Caffi directly benefited from the patronage of these Grand Tourists.

Highlights by these artists and many others will be on view in the Sotheby’s London galleries 5-9 December ahead of the January 2016 New York exhibition and sale. This is the first of a two-part sale series with Part II including paintings, Roman works of art, and decorative arts to be held in Spring 2016 in n London.

“This beautiful and academic private collection from the Eternal City encompasses two parts: the first contains stunning examples of Italian vedute, the second a beautiful neoclassical group of works of art and mosaics by distinguished Roman artists such as Valadier, Righetti, Raffaelli and Aguatti. These were assembled during the 20th century with the same passion and enchantment which spurred the buying habits of the grand tourists two centuries before,” said Mario Tavella, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby's Europe.

While landscape painting as a sub-genre had existed since the Renaissance, viewpainting flourished as its own genre towards the end of the seventeenth century. Gaspar Vanvitelli is considered one of the fathers of the Italian veduta, panoramic views which are for the most part topographically accurate. His depiction of A View of the Castel Sant’Angelo from Prati (est. $300,000/400,000) shows the reality of Rome at the turn of the century, with events from everyday life juxtaposed with historical monuments bathed in the city’s warm light.

Painted by Bernardo Bellotto in a striking light, A Capriccio River Landscape with a Church to the Left (est. $1,000,000/1,500,000) is illustrative of the significant development in Grand Tour taste for capricci, imaginary landscapes which borrow different elements from real places to create fantasy depictions of celebrated sites. Trained in his uncle Antonio Canaletto's studio, and assisting with many of his great works from the 1740s, Bellotto developed a style which was rooted in his uncle’s work but displayed an increased precision in the description of architecture, a greater emphasis on atmosphere, and a cooler palette. He was celebrated in his native Italy as well as in many of the courts of northern Europe. By the time the present work was painted around 1765, Bellotto had left his kinsman’s studio in his birthplace of Venice, and had already spent some eleven years in Dresden (1747-58), where he was the highest paid artist at the Saxon court and eventually appointed court painter.

Another popular destination on the Grand Tour was the city of Naples. Vanvitelli’s magnificent View of the Riviera Di Chiaia (est. $1,500,000/2,000,000) shows the bustle of the majestic waterside avenue which was opened in 1697 and was lined with the nobility’s elegant homes. This majestic picture, painted at the peak of the artist’s career, is among Vanvitelli’s best work and stands out for its condition and impressive size.

Portraiture blossomed during these years and was also among the type of paintings acquired by Grand Tourists. Considered by many to be Italy’s finest portrait painter, Pompeo Batoni enjoyed the patronage of Rome’s most distinguished foreign visitors including dukes and other aristocrats. Batoni’s impressive Portrait of Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (est. $300,000/400,000) shows the royal sitter standing before one of Rome’s most recognizable monuments, the Colosseum.

The Road to Rome: A Distinguished Italian Private Collection Part I captures the spirit of the taste of the Grand Tour and represents all the major types of painting which accompanied it.

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