Canaletto’s Warwick Castle heads to the States

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The South Front of Warwick Castle, Giovanni Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768), dated 1748

The last painting of Warwick Castle by Canaletto in private hands has been bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The canvas was part of a significant bequest from collector and donor Jane Wrightsman, which included a further 374 artworks and $80million for the museum’s acquisition fund.

The oil on canvas was created by the famous Venetian artist Canaletto during one of his two trips to Warwickshire in 1748 and 1751. Remarkably, the original receipt for this painting, made in Canaletto’s own hand, is found in the Warwick Castle archive now held by the Warwickshire County Record Office.

He produced five painted views of the castle in all for Francis Greville, 1st Earl Brooke and later 1st Earl of Warwick, most of which were eventually sold from by the castle’s last owner David Greville, Lord Brooke, in the late 1970s. The five paintings, and two detailed drawings, are in museums scattered across the globe. Two are in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, one in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in Madrid, and the other two are in museums in Yale and New York respectively.

Adam Busiakiewicz, an art historian and PhD researcher at Warwick University, tells Herald arts: “Warwick Castle has inspired many truly great artists to produce views of it, including Turner, Constable, Wright of Derby and John Ruskin. This was the last of the great views of Warwick by Canaletto in private hands. I wonder if, and when, they might ever all be reunited again?”

The nearest place to see Canaletto’s work is at Compton Verney Gallery and Museum, which owns several artworks. Find out more at www.comptonverney.org