Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery
March 9 through May 30, 2010
Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697–1768)
Old Walton Bridge
Oil on canvas
Gift of Miss E. Murray Smith, 1917
Old Walton Bridge commemorates a marvel of engineering — the wooden bridge, twenty-five miles southwest of central London, designed by William Etheridge and completed in August 1750, its central span the largest in Europe at the time. Canaletto records the typically variable English weather, with the sun breaking through the clouds and a rain shower in the background. The barge in the foreground has lowered its mast as it prepares to pass under the bridge, and through the painted struts of the bridge’s apex we see a coachman furiously driving the six horses that draw his gilded carriage.
Thomas Hollis (1720–1774), the radical political philosopher and one of Canaletto’s most discerning patrons, appears in the foreground of the composition, just right of center, wearing a yellow coat. Next to him is his companion (and heir), Thomas Brand, their dog, Malta, and their Italian manservant in blue and red livery. Even Canaletto, “remarkable for reservedness and shyness in being seen at work,” makes a cameo appearance, seated on a stool, paintbrush in hand, with a cow behind him.
The exhibition, in the Frick’s Oval Room and Garden Court, is co-organized by Colin B. Bailey, Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at the Frick, and Xavier F. Salomon, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich. A fully illustrated catalogue, written by Dr. Salomon, features an essay on the origins of the collection at Dulwich as well as comprehensive entries on the nine works.
Principal funding for the exhibition is provided by Christie's and Melvin R. Seiden.
Additional support is generously provided by John and Constance Birkelund, Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Eberstadt, Fiduciary Trust Company International, Barbara G. Fleischman, Francis Finlay, and Hester Diamond.
The accompanying catalogue is made possible by Jon and Barbara Landau.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.