Panoramic Capriccio

  • Andrea Porta
  • Verona 1720–1805
  • Oil on canvas
  • 29¼ x 39 in / 74.5 x 99.1 cm

Panoramic Capriccio, Andrea Porta

Formerly attributed to Pittoni when first offered at auction in New York, it was subsequently attributed correctly to Andrea Porta, the son and disciple of Tomaso Porta (Brescia 1686 -1766 Verona). Fluent in both earlier traditions of sixteenth century North Italian landscape vistas and contemporary trends favored in Venice, Andrea’s work found a following in Venice including Antonio Diziani.

The present painting is a remarkably complete composite of Andrea Porta’s favored composition vocabulary and syntax as fully evolved in his early maturity before later yielding to a lighter decorative mode less internally energetic but suited for larger scale fresco décor in Veneto villas. Every element of this composition reflects Andrea’s fascination early on with motion: the tree framing the left twists with a violent will of its own; pathways rise and descend in abrupt angles and turns; water turns in and around channels of juts and jetties; and steep hills rise through the center of it all sustaining clusters of buildings in states of erratic ruin.

All is busy, what Gainsborough prescribed in landscape painting as ‘a little business for the eye;’ here there is as much varied action and incidental set pieces as in a Chinese scroll painting: sail boats, mooring frames at the shore and small figures meandering through and about. These are nicely drawn, and as another constant in Andrea’s work, modeled in divisions of light and dark to the left and right of faces and torsos.

There is an excellent summary of this artist’s career in context with ample illustrations that support both the attribution and a dating in the 1750s-60s in Federica Spadotto, Paesaggisti veneti del ‘700, Verona, 2014.