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Joli, Antonio

Modena (Italy), 1700 - Naples (Italy), 1777

According to historian Girolamo Tiraboschi, Antonio Joli was a disciple of perspective painter Raffaelo Menia Rinaldi in Modena and later, in Rome, of Giovanni Paolo Panini, a painter of idealized landscapes with classical ruins whose influence on Joli's style was decisive. In 1732, Joli began his career painting theater sets in Venice, one of the most important centers for Italian opera at that time. He also painted “vedute” in oils after the manner of Gaspar Vanvitelli. Joli soon became well known for these works and he entered the employ of Johannes Matthias von der Schulenburg, Marshal of the Republic of Venice. His work was also appreciated by Carl Gustav Tessin, a well-known art collector and agent to the king of Sweden who nonetheless chose set-painter Giuseppe Galli Bibbiena instead for various jobs at the court in Stockholm.

In 1739, Joli was appointed prior to the Collegio dei Pittori Veneziani and in 1741; he was promoted to one of the three posts as trustee. The famous Venetian writer and libertine Giacomo Girolamo Casanova praised him as a "celebrated decorative painter," when he sent his brother Francisco to that school to free him of the "tyranny" of his teacher, Guardi. Following a brief stay in Rome and travels around Austria and Saxony in 1742 and 1743, Joli spent several years working at the Royal Haymarket Theatre in London. He also painted vedute of that city for private clients, as well as views of Rome that he executed while studying with Panini. These were based on prints of vedute painted by contemporary Italian landscape artists. After the director of the London opera died in 1749, Joli moved to Madrid to replace the recently deceased Santiago Pavia, a Bolognese artist who painted sets for the Buen Retiro's Royal Theater. The vedute he painted during his six-year stay at court in Madrid earned him the sobriquet, "Canaletto of Madrid." In 1754, he returned to Italy, apparently due to disagreements with Farinelli. Lacking a stable post at any of the Venetian theaters, he worked exclusively on vedute, becoming one of the first painters of that genre to be included in the new Venetian Academy of Painting and Sculpture and its council. In 1756 he met young Lord John Brudenell of England and accompanied him on his Grand Tour through southern Italy, Ischia and Sicily. Those were infrequently visited regions at that time, and for his patron, he painted numerous views of the cities and regions they passed through. Outstanding among these is a series of six “Views of the Temples of Paestum”, which lord and painter visited in 1756, and which Joli depicted in 1759. These first oil paintings of those monuments discovered in 1746 but largely ignored by travelers until 1760 became known through prints by Filippo Morghen, a member of one of the most important 18th-century families of Italian engravers. The prints were published in 1765 in an edition dedicated to Frederick Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, an extravagant English aristocrat who spent the last years of his life in Italy. Brudenell returned to Venice in summer 1758, but Joli settled in Naples, where his attempts to obtain a post at the Neapolitan court were quashed by the monarchs' departure in October 1759. Unfortunately, he had not managed to make himself well known, and in 1762, in a letter to Tanucci about finding a successor to the late Vincenzo Ré, who had painted the backdrops for the Royal Theater of San Carlos, the king mentioned that he had only a distant knowledge of Joli. Nevertheless, Joli obtained that post and held it until his death in 1777. During that final period of his life, he continued to paint “vedute” for private collectors, including the Prince of Francavilla, who was one of that period's most refined Neapolitan courtiers; and Sir William Hamilton, British minster to Naples. Some of his depictions of official events were requested by Ferdinand IV, who wished to send two of Joli's views of the king's sea trips to Posillipo to his father, Charles III, who much admired that genre of painting. Those canvases are now lost. There are also documents indicating that two of his paintings were sent6 to court in Madrid, and these may be the “Daytime Eruption of Vesuvius of 1761/60”, and its accompanying nocturnal version, which have been at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez since 1769 (Maurer, G. in: Memoria de actividades 2011, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2012, pp. 18 ff.).

Artworks (5)


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