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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Michele Marieschi

A Lagoon Capriccio

1799 - 1800

Primary Image: TG0904: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Michele Marieschi (1710–43), A Lagoon Capriccio, 1799–1800, graphite, watercolour and scratching out on laid paper, 30.5 × 43.2 cm, 12 × 17 in. Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (1953P218).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: (?) Michele Marieschi (1710–43), A Capriccio of an Italian Port, oil on canvas, 48.3 × 67.3 cm, 19 × 26 ½ in. Timothy Landston, Fine Art and Antiques.

Photo courtesy of Timothy Langston, Fine Art and Antiques (All Rights Reserved)

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Michele Marieschi (1710-1743)
Title
  • A Lagoon Capriccio
Date
1799 - 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and scratching out on laid paper
Dimensions
30.5 × 43.2 cm, 12 × 17 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Foreign Master
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Imaginary Scene

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG0904
Girtin & Loshak Number
300 as 'Lagoon Capriccio'; '1798–9'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and April 2024

Provenance

Possibly bought by Peter Bluett (1767–1843) of Holcombe Court, Devon; then by descent to Peter Frederick Bluett (1806–84); Holcombe Court bought by the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866), 1858; his collection by descent to Revd George Morganig William Thomas Jenkins (1879–1952); acquired by Gooden & Fox Ltd., 1936; Norman Dakeyne Newall (1888–1952); James Leslie Wright (1862–1954); presented to the Museum, 1953

Exhibition History

London, 1949, no.181 as ' Italian Scene, after Francesco Guardi’

Bibliography

Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.67; Rose, 1980, p.57; Morris, 1986, p.18

About this Work

This watercolour of a Venetian lagoon with imaginary buildings, in a format known as a capriccio, is based on a work attributed to the eighteenth-century view painter Michele Marieschi (1710–43) (see the source image above). Girtin’s versions after other eighteenth-century Italian artists, such as Marco Ricci (1676–1730) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), were all made after prints (for example, see source image TG0887), but no engraving of this subject has been traced, and it must be assumed that, unusually for Girtin, he worked from an original oil painting. The presumed source is now thought to actually be by a follower of Marieschi rather than the artist himself, but, aside from the fact that Girtin cut the composition slightly to the left and right, his watercolour otherwise follows the subject very closely, reproducing the figures exactly, and there is a strong likelihood that it was Girtin’s source. It is not known where Girtin came across the painting, however. Neither of the early patrons whose collections provided Girtin with numerous models to copy, Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and John Henderson (1764–1843), are known to have owned paintings by Marieschi, and the opportunities for an artist to copy a painting by a foreign master in the days before the foundation of public galleries were limited. Young landscape artists were therefore dependent on the connections they were able to forge with collectors, and we have evidence that Girtin did just that with the playwright Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809), who accompanied the artist on his sketching tours around Paris in 1802. Holcroft recorded in his diary, early in 1799, that ‘Girton, a landscape designer, looked at my pictures, and praised them highly. After the Wilsons, his attention was most deeply attracted by the landscape by Artois’ (Holcroft, 1816, vol.3, p.169). Nothing by Marieschi has been traced to Holcroft’s collection, though the date of the visit in 1799 may well accord with the production of this watercolour.

Although not made after a print, A Lagoon Capriccio has a number of stylistic links with a group of six watercolours of around 1800–1801 that Girtin made after etchings from the work of Ricci, including Ancient Ruins, with an Obelisk (TG0881), which includes a similar motif of a workman raising a ladder, and all of the works appear to employ the same laid paper. The first known owner of the Marieschi copy was either Peter Bluett (1767–1863) of Holcombe Court, Devon, or a descendant of the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866), who moved into the property in 1858, and two of the Ricci-inspired drawings (TG0880 and TG0883) also came from the collection at Holcombe. However, unlike the slightly earlier copies after prints by Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820), such as Rome: The Temple of Saturn (TG0893), which were produced on commission, the later group that includes the works from Holcombe was made for sale on the open market. This is an important distinction, because whilst the earlier copies were dictated by the requirements of the patron, watercolours such as this constituted a new kind of commodity aimed at collectors of Girtin’s work. Thus, at a time when the Continent was cut off for travellers from Britain by war, an image of ancient or exotic scenery showcased Girtin’s skills as an artist who was able to rise to the challenge of depicting the foreign without leaving his native city.

1799 - 1800

The Temple of Clitumnus

TG0887

1800 - 1801

Ancient Ruins, with an Obelisk

TG0881

1800 - 1801

An Imaginary City, with Antique Buildings

TG0880

1800 - 1801

A Classical Composition, with a Church and Column

TG0883

1796 - 1797

Rome: The Temple of Saturn, Called the Temple of Concord

TG0893

by Greg Smith

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