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Masterworks from Budapest. From the Renaissance to the Avant-Garde

From 18 February to 28 May 2017

Lucas Cranach, the Elder
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1526-1530
Oil on panel. 88.4 x 58.3 cm
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts
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Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Michele Marieschi
The Grand Canal with Santa Maria della Salute
ca. 1738-40
Oil on canvas
83.5 x 121 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 281 (1970.9)

More information about this work

Some of the information known regarding the training and early years of this short-lived artist is to be found in Orlandi’s Abecedario Pittorico. Aside from that source, the earliest information available to us links Marieschi with the world of theatrical set design and temporary architecture, areas in which he worked in Venice in the early 1730s, after which he focused his activities on painting and printmaking. Marieschi may have spent time in Gaspare Diziani’s studio while he was an apprentice. Other areas of his career are also problematic, including the dating of his works as well as the nature of his collaboration with his closest assistant, Francesco Albotto, who on Marieschi’s death continued to imitate his style, a fact that has made the latter’s work more difficult to attribute. Marieschi may have decided to focus on capriccios and views of Venice as a result of Canaletto’s success in this genre, considering that he would enjoy the patronage of the same group of clients who purchased works by the great Venetian master. In addition to making a close study of Canaletto’s work, Marieschi also looked to Luca Carlevarijs and Marco Ricci, particularly their capriccios. Among his patrons was Marshal Von Schulenburg (an important patron of Ceruti), for whom Marieschi painted a series of views.

The present The Grand Canal with Santa Maria della Salute entered the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in 1970. It was previously in the collection of Dimitri Tziracopoulo in Athens, and had been studied by Constable, who included it in his monograph on Canaletto of 1962, before it entered the Collection. The painting has been dated to Marieschi’s last phase, around 1738–40 and is considered to be an autograph work by the artist.

Marieschi depicted this stretch of the Grand Canal on various occasions and in several versions. In this work the artist presents a frontal view dominated by Santa Maria della Salute, one of the city’s most celebrated buildings together with the Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. The church, designed by Baldassare Longhena, was consecrated in 1687 and was erected in thanks to the Virgin for the end of an outbreak of the plague that had affected the city between 1629 and 1630. In the present canvas Marieschi emphasizes the church’s great dome as well as the highly distinctive volutes crowned by sculptures beneath it. The massive building is framed on either side by the abbey of San Gregorio and the Patriarchal Seminary. In front of the building is the Canal, animated by numerous gondolas and elegantly dressed figures that take part in a water-borne procession, indicated by the presence of a banner with the image of the Virgin on the boat at the right edge. Marieschi used a lighter palette than Canaletto, as can be seen in the sky and the façades of the buildings, in addition to favouring more panoramic compositions. Among the other known versions of this painting is a notable example in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mar Borobia

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