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Luca Carlevarijs (Udine 1663 – 1730 Venice), River landscape with a capriccio view of the Ponte Rotto, Rome. Estimate $600,000-800,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

signed indistinctly with initials on one of the stone blocks center right: L+C; oil on canvas, 40 7/8  by 69 1/2  in.; 103.8 by 176.5 cm.

PROVENANCE: Anonymous sale (« Property of a Lady »), London, Christie’s, 5 July 1991, lot 106;
There purchased by the present collector.

LITERATURE: A. Delneri, in Luca Carlevarijs e la veduta veneziana del Settecento, exhibition catalogue, Padua 1994, p. 218, under cat. no. 48;
C. Beddington, Luca Carlevarijs, Views of Venice, exhibition catalogue, San Diego 2001, p. 10, reproduced p. 11, fig. 6 (datable to circa 1712-14).

NOTE: This grand capriccio has been dated to Carlevarijs’s full maturity, circa 1712-14, and is a beautiful example of his vedute ideate in which he often incorporated real buildings and monuments into his imaginary settings.  Here the central focus is the famous Ponte Rotto on the Tiber river in Rome, which the artist has combined with various fabricated medieval buildings and structures.  An elegant group of figures with their carriage is being ferried across the river while two monks and a group of peasants presumably wait their turn.  Carlevarijs depicted the Ponte Rotto in a number of other compositions, most notably his large canvases, Marine with the Ponte Rotto and Arch of Constantine in the Accademia dei Concordi, Rovigo, and Capriccio with the Ponte Rotto in a private collection, Milan.1  The overall compositional type of this painting is similar to other capricci from this  period in which the artist builds up a combination of architectural elements on one side, while the other is more open, leading the eye out to a distant horizon line.  In discussing this painting, Charles Beddington (see Literature) has pointed out that “while the liveliness of the figures recalls Carlevarijs’s paintings of the previous century, the light tonality, the importance of the architectural element, and the level of refinement are new and show a parallel development in these respects to his view paintings.”

Carlevarijis is today recognized as the founder of the Venetian school of view painting, without whose example the vedute of Canaletto and others would have been inconceivable.2  His talents were versatile and, in addition to painting, he was an accomplished draughtsman, printmaker, architect, and mathematician.  Born in Udine, he was orphaned as a young boy and raised by his sister with whom he moved to Venice.   Little is known concerning his artistic training and it had long been thought that he must have traveled to Rome in his youth where he was exposed to works by the Bamboccianti, Claude Lorrain, Viviano Codazzi and others, but there is no documentary evidence and recent scholarship has doubted this supposition.3  Though Carlevarijs probably never saw the actual Ponte Rotto, his depiction of it in this and other capricci is most likely based on accurate renderings by other artists in paintings and drawings or, more likely, from print sources.

1.  See Luca Carlevarijs e la veduta veneziana del Settecento, exhibition catalogue, Padua 1994, pp. 218-220, cat. nos. 48 and 49, reproduced.
2.  C. Beddington, op.cit., p. 1.
3.  Ibid., p. 9.

Sotheby’s. Master Paintings: Part I. New York | 29 janv. 2015, 10:00 AM