A major landscape by painter Antonio Joli donated by the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado
MADRID.- The Museo del Prado is presenting this new donation in the form of a small exhibition of twelve works shown alongside View of Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony at the Arch of Trajan in Benevento, an architectural landscape executed in 1759 by the set painter and vedutista Antonio Joli (Modena, 1700 – Naples, 1777). The exhibition includes three paintings by the artist from the Museum’s collection as well as various landscapes and views by his predecessors such as Panini and Vanvitelli, a group of etchings, two of them by Piranesi, and a Portrait of Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony by Giuseppe Bonito. Together, these works will enable the visiting public to locate Joli’s canvas within the collections of the Prado and to appreciate the distinctive nature of this architectural landscape, which reflects the new intellectual attitude with which Grand Tour travellers of the day approached classical monuments. In addition, the presence in the painting of Queen Maria Amalia and an artist engaged in drawing refers to the importance of patronage for the conservation and dissemination of the art of antiquity.
The three paintings by Joli that are exhibited alongside this new work by the artist that has recently entered the Museum reveal the artist’s wide-ranging skills as a landscape painter, given that they combine the descriptive and topographical veduta with a description of historical events, in addition to offering lively records of official acts. Also dating from 1759, two of these panoramic landscapes depict the departure for Spain of the King and Queen of Naples and Sicily, Charles of Bourbon and Maria Amalia of Saxony, in order to assume the Spanish throne following the death of Fernando VI. The third view depicts the abdication of Charles of Bourbon, future Charles III of Spain, in favour of his son Fernando, a work that represents Joli’s only known interior scene. In addition, a group of views and architectural landscapes will allow visitors to appreciate the way that Joli moved away from his artistic predecessors. They include a descriptive and topographical view of the Bay of Chiaia, Naples, by Juan Ruiz; an ideal landscape with ruins by Joli’s master Giovanni Paolo Panini, which is animated by figures in Roman dress; the poetic landscape of The Grotto at Posillipo by Gaspar Vanvitelli, which reflects Grand Tour travellers’ literary perception of the Italian landscape as described, for example, by Virgil; and the type of Sublime veduta developed by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and represented here by two prints from the Biblioteca Histórica of the Universidad Complutense, one of which depicts the Arch of Trajan at Benevento. In addition, there are two prints from the prestigious Le antichità di Ercolano esposte (1757-1792), a publication sponsored by Charles of Bourbon that disseminated the archaeological items excavated at Herculaneum and Pompeii across Europe. The exhibition also includes a portrait by Giuseppe Bonito of Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony. Educated at the court of Dresden, known as the “Florence of the north” due to its brilliant artistic life, the Queen was renowned for her sophisticated taste in classical antiquities.
The new work by Joli that has recently entered the Museum is a depiction of the imposing Arch of Trajan at Benvento surrounded by the ruins of other Roman monuments in that city. It depicts Queen Maria Amalia’s visit to these monuments, during which she listened to the explanations of an expert guide while an artist, also guided by a knowledgeable companion, copies various classical remains from life. The painting can be dated to the first decade spent in Naples by Joli, a leading Modena-born painter of theatrical sets and vedute who had worked in theatres in Venice, London and Madrid. Jolil arrived in Naples in the spring of 1759, a few months before the departure of the monarchs, at that point King and Queen of Naples and Sicily, in order to assume the Spanish throne.
This work represents the latest in a series of generous donations through which the Fundación Amigos del Prado have contributed to the enrichment of the Prado’s collections since 1982, the year that it made its first donation withThe Countess of Santovenia, “The Girl in Pink” by Eduardo Rosales. Other donations have included Portrait of a Dwarf by Juan van der Hamen in 1986; The Martyrdom of Saint Stephen by Bernardo Cavallino in 1988; Aureliano de Beruete y Moret the Younger by Joaquín Sorolla in 1994; and Self-portrait of the Artist in his Studio by Luis Paret y Alcázar in 1996. In addition, between the years 1983 and 1984, the Fundación donated drawings by Mariano Fortuny, Francisco de Goya, Herrera the Elder, José del Castillo and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, as well as the print portfolios The Museo del Prado seen by Twelve Contemporary Spanish Artists in 1990, and Twelve Women Artists in the Museo del Prado in 2007.