Antonio Joli

Rome, a view of the Tiber with Castel Sant’Angelo and Saint Peter’s Basilica

Oil on canvas: 40(h) x 50.1(w) in /

101.6(h) x 127.3(w) cm

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Modena circa 1700 – 1777 Naples


Rome, a view of the Tiber with Castel Sant’Angelo and Saint Peter’s Basilica


Oil on canvas: 40 x 50 ⅛ in / 101.6 x 127.3 cm

Frame size: 48 ½  x 58 ¾ in /  123.2 x 149.2 cm



Monsieur Claude Lebel;

his sale, Sotheby’s London, 9th December 1981, lot 74

Richard Green, London, 1981

Private collection, USA



Mario Manzelli, Antonio Joli; Opera Pittorica, Venice 1999, p.90, no.R3; fig. 57 (erroneously listed in the catalogue entry as illus. fig. 56)

Ralph Toledano, Antonio Joli, Turin 2006, p.155, no.R.VIII.9, illus.



Antonio Joli’s mastery of perspective (derived from his activities as a scene painter) and combination of atmospheric lighting with exquisite attention to detail, made him popular with aristocratic Grand Tourists. He was in Rome circa 1718 to 1725, but made Roman views throughout his career, based on drawings made on the spot.


This view is taken just upstream of Ponte Sant’Angelo, facing some of the most famous and beautiful buildings of Rome. To the right is the formidable circular fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo, built from 130-139 AD as the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian and from the fourteenth century used as the private residence of the Popes. It was also a notorious prison, playing host to Beatrice Cenci, Benvenuto Cellini and Verdi’s (fictional) Caravadossi in Tosca. The angels on Ponte Sant’Angelo were carved by Bernini’s workshop in 1688.


In the centre distance, shimmering in the sun, is Saint Peter’s Basilica, a project begun by Julius II in 1505 and developed over the next hundred years by Bramante, Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo and Carlo Maderno into its final magnificent form. To the right are the buildings of the Vatican. To the left of Saint Peter’s is the sixteenth century church of Santo Spirito in Sassia (once the Saxon, or English, quarter of Rome), designed by Antonio Sangallo Jnr and given a façade by Mascherino in the late sixteenth century. Beyond rises the verdant hill of the Janiculum. Joli captures the radiant Roman light, the blue sky fretted with wispy clouds, the warm colours and textures of the brick and grey-gold stone.


Joli made several versions of this view, all with variations in details and staffage. The present work can be compared to a painting of approximately the same size at Temple Newsam House, Leeds, which was commissioned by its owner Henry Ingram, 7th Viscount of Irvine (1691-1761) around 1744 from Joli during his English sojourn (1744-48)[1]. The two paintings share the motif of a boatman ferrying two women and a larger boat with a striped awning, although Joli varies the arrangement of the masts in the larger vessel.





Antonio Joli, A view of the Tiber. Temple Newsam House, Leeds.






Modena circa 1700 – 1777 Naples



Antonio Joli was an Italian view painter and scenographer. Born in Modena, he studied with Raffaello Rinaldi and one of the members of the Bibiena family, famous for their theatre designs.  By 1718, Joli was in Rome, where he probably trained with Giovanni Paolo Panini, the painter of vedute and architectural capricci. He gained an important commission to decorate the Villa Patrizi and in 1719 became a member of the Accademia di San Luca.


Joli was back in Modena by circa 1725, where he worked for the Duke of Modena. In 1732 he is first documented in Venice, where he designed stage sets for the San Cassiano and San Samuele theatres; his work was admired by the leading Venetian playwright, Carlo Goldoni. During this period Joli painted many views of the city, influenced by Canaletto, Marieschi and Carlevarijs.


Joli left Venice in 1742 and went first to Dresden and then to London, where he worked as a scene painter and assistant manager at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket from 1744 to 1748. He also worked on topographical overdoors and decorative schemes, such as that painted for the impresario John James Heidegger at 4 Maids of Honour Row, Richmond (still in situ).


By 1750 Joli was in Madrid, where he remained for four years, working for Charles III of Spain at Buen Retiro as a scenographer and view painter, as well as being commissioned to paint theatrical scenery in the Teatro del Buen Retiro and at Aranjuez. He returned to Venice in 1754 and was elected a member of the Venetian Academy the following year. Joli spent the latter part of his life in Naples, where he finally settled in 1762, employed as Painter to the King in the Court Theatre. Amongst his other illustrious patrons were Sir William Hamilton, Lord John Brudenell, the Duke of Richmond and Lord Spencer.


The work of Antonio Joli is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museo di San Martino, Naples; the Palazzo Reale, Naples; the Palazzo Reale, Caserta; Temple Newsam House, Leeds; the collection of Lord Montagu, Beaulieu, Hampshire, and the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch, Bowhill, Scotland.


[1] 42 x 52 in / 106.7 x 132.2 cm. Toledano, op. cit., p.147, no.R.VIII.1, illus.

Old MasterAntonio Joli