Luca Carlevarijs is undoubtedly to be considered the founder of the Venetian school of view painting, epitomised in the 18th century by more well-known vedutisti such as Canaletto, Bellotto and Guardi. Carlevarijs’ contribution is important not only because he pre-dates these painters by some years but also because there were no precursors for views of Venice of this type. Joseph Heintz the Younger had produced views of Venice, often incorporating festivals or carnivals in his scenes, but his paintings have more in common with the long-standing Venetian tradition of engraving and do not seek to portray the city and its people in a naturalistic way. Though Carlevarijs may have known the works of Pieter Mulier and Johann Anton Eismann, both of whom were in Venice in the last quarter of the 17th century, he soon departed from painting capricci of mediterranean harbours, as they also had done, and tended towards a more realistic portrayal of the city that was to inspire him for a lifetime. Carlevarijs moved to Venice in 1679, at the age of 16 years, and his first known view painting dates from that year. In 1700 he is described as a painter of architecture and perspective in the Guida de’ forestieri (published in V. Coronelli, Viaggi, 1700 (2nd ed.), pp. 15-16; cited by Succi, see Literature, 1994, p. 39), and three years later Carlevarijs produced a highly influential series of 104 engravings for a publication entitled Le Fabriche, e Vedute di Venetia disegnate, poste in prospettiva et intagliate (27 May 1703). Much later in the century John Strange would describe him as “The first of any note who painted views of Venice” (1789), and indeed he single-handedly established view painting as an art form in Venice. By the end of the first decade of the 18th century he had painted a number of large representations of particular events for foreign visitors to the city and until the emergence of Canaletto in the 1720s, Carlevarijs’ position as the purveyor of Venetian views to foreign visitors remained practically unchallenged. The only painter whose works we know had a deciding influence on Carlevarijs was Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, who probably visited Venice in 1694-95 (for a discussion of Vanvitelli’s influence on Carlevarijs see Beddington, under Literature, 2001, pp. 12-13). Both artists sought to reproduce the city with topographical accuracy but the chief difference between them is that Carlevarijs generally gives greater importance to his figures in his vedute. They are proportionately larger, as if Carlevarijs were zooming in for a closer viewpoint, thus making us feel more closely involved in the scenes played out before us. Their works were distinctive enough, not just from each other’s but from those of their contemporaries, for them both to find success as vedutisti in the first quarter of the 18th century; Vanvitelli principally in Rome and Naples, and Carlevarijs in Venice.\nThis magnificent view of the Molo originally formed part of a set of four views of Venice, which are believed to have been purchased circa 1710-1715 by Christopher Crowe, British Consul in Leghorn, and which have hung together at Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire from the early 18th century until recently. The series was made up of a View of the Piazzetta looking towards the Riva degli Schiavoni and a View of the Bacino di San Marco (both sold, London, Christie’s, 26 November 1971, lots 73 and 74 respectively); A view of Piazza San Marco (still in the collection of the Kiplin Hall Charitable Trust) and the present View of the Molo with the Doge's Palace looking west towards the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. This painting, like its companions, is impressive for its highly sophisticated rendering of a site that would have been extremely familiar to visitors of Venice. The scene is populated by over one hundred colourful, individually defined figures and the spectacular architectural setting is unified by a warm, soft light that is both naturalistic and atmospheric.\n\nThe Kiplin version of The Molo looking West had long been considered to date from the early 1720s, an opinion recently questioned by Beddington, who convincingly argues for a much earlier date of execution (see Beddington, under Literature, pp. 23, 33, footnote 58). Rizzi had made an unsubstantiated statement that the paintings were acquired in Genoa between 1720 and 1730 and Succi dated the Kiplin pictures to 1722-23 on stylistic grounds. Succi also favoured this date because he believed Crowe to have been British consul in Genoa from 1720 to 1723 and since Crowe had acquired Kiplin Hall in 1722 it was assumed that the series of four views was commissioned with a specific room in mind. Even though this view of the Molo comes closest in composition to the Seattle painting, itself datable on topographical grounds to circa 1727, the Kiplin series must have been painted earlier because one of the set, that showing The Piazza San Marco, shows the square with the paving as it was prior to 1723, the year in which the pavement designed by Andrea Tirali which we see today was begun. This provides us with a terminus ante quem for the series. Beddington, however, has proposed a much earlier dating of the Kiplin views, believing them to have been painted at the height of Carlevarijs’ artistic career: “…their refinement is unparalleled in Carlevarijs’s later work and a dating much closer to the Lehman set is far more convincing on stylistic grounds” (ibid., p. 23). A probable date of execution during the first half of the 1710s is also corroborated by biographical evidence relating to the Kiplin pictures’ probable patron.\nChristopher Crowe (1682-1749) is known to have held the post of British consul at Leghorn between 1705 and 1716, though he was already a merchant in that city before his appointment (see Ingamells, under Literature, p. 257). Leghorn was one of the principal Italian ports through which passed works of art destined for export and thus Crowe played an active role as an intermediary for English collectors seeking to purchase paintings and sculpture (amongst those recorded as enlisting his help are the Duke of Marlborough, of Blenheim Palace, and Lord Strafford, of Wentworth Castle; see Haslam, under Literature, p. 279). He may thus have been instrumental in helping the Duke of Marlborough to acquire a group of paintings by Carlevarijs formerly at Blenheim. It was during his time as consul that he is traditionally thought to have commissioned the Kiplin series of four paintings directly from the artist. Though no visit to Venice is securely documented, Crowe is known to have visited Florence and Rome, sitting to Francesco Trevisani in the latter (fig. 1). In 1715 he travelled to Geneva, where he married Lady Charlotte Lee (1678-1720), daughter of the 1st Earl of Lichfield. Charlotte, a Roman Catholic, was the illegitimate grand-daughter of King Charles II and widow of the 4th Baron Baltimore (whom she had divorced in 1705). Crowe may have met Charlotte in Venice in or around 1714, for Hugh Broughton records her presence there in a letter dated 2nd February of that year. In 1722, six years after his return to England and shortly after Charlotte’s death, Crowe acquired Kiplin Hall (fig. 2) from his stepson Charles, 5th Lord Baltimore, for £7,000. He remodelled the house during the 1730s to house his art collection, and even as late as 1771 over eighty pictures are listed there (see Young, under Literature), many of which were Venetian, and this and the three other paintings by Carlevarijs hung together there until two of the series were sold at auction in 1971.\n\nMost view paintings by Carlevarijs and his successors were painted for tourists and, in particular, for the British clientele who visited Venice on the Grand Tour. The site and subjects had to be recognisable to the clients for whom they were painted and so naturally some views recur more often than others: Carlevarijs concentrated on views of the ceremonial centre, around the Bacino di San Marco and the Piazza San Marco. He frequently painted the same view, even from a similar viewpoint, altering the staffage to tailor the composition to a specific patron or historical event. The subjects of three of the four Kiplin views correspond with those in an earlier and much smaller set painted for Edward, 3rd Baron Leigh of Stoneleigh and now in the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. nos. 1975.1.87, 1975.1.89 and 1975.1.90; see Pope-Hennessy, under Literature, pp. 250-55, cat. nos. 100-102), where the set of four is completed with a View of the Bacino and the Dogana with the Isola di San Giorgio beyond (inv. no. 1975.1.88; ibid., cat. no. 99). Crowe may conceivably have known those. The Lehman View of the Molo, which corresponds with the present picture in format and viewpoint but not in staffage, is dated 1709 on a pillar of the Palazzo Ducale (for this date see Beddington, op. cit., 2001, p. 21).\n\nThe depiction of the Molo, looking West may be regarded as the definitive Carlevarijs composition. It was a subject that he painted throughout his career, sometimes serving as a back-drop to the depiction of a specific event, and a number of variants of the composition, including the present work, are among his finest achievements. These variants range in date from the artist’s beginnings as a view painter in 1703 until 1727, his final year of activity (from 1728 until his death in 1730 he suffered a debilitating disease from which he remained paralysed). Apart from the Kiplin picture, the finest examples are all today in public institutions. They include The Reception of the French Ambassador Henri-Charles Arnauld, Abbé de Pomponne, at the Doge’s Palace on 10 May 1706 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; reproduced in colour in F. Pedrocco, Visions of Venice: Paintings of the 18th Century, London and New York 2002, p. 49), The Reception of the British Ambassador Charles Montagu, 4th Earl of Manchester, at the Doge’s Palace on 22 September 1707 (Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery; reproduced in Beddington, op. cit., fig. 15, and Pedrocco, loc. cit.), The Reception of the Imperial Ambassador Count Colloredo at the Doge’s Palace on 3 April 1726 (Dresden, Staatliche Gemäldegalerie; see Succi, op. cit., p. 242, cat. no. 65, reproduced in colour pp. 244-5), and The Molo looking West (Seattle, Seattle Art Museum; ibid. p. 48, reproduced fig. 10; datable to c. 1727 on topographical grounds; see Beddington, op. cit., p. 25).\n\nThe reason why many of Carlevarijs’ figures appear so naturalistic may be in part through his study of Dutch art as a young man but must largely be due to his use of studio models. He produced countless pencil studies and painted sketches of figures - merchants, gentlemen, masked ladies, gondoliers, food-sellers, and dogs - which were kept in the studio and often re-used on more than one occasion. This use of a “pattern book” is unusual though not unique: in Venice the tradition of pattern books goes as far back as Jacopo Bellini, and in the 18th century other artists are known to have kept sketches in their workshops for students to copy from, or for use at a later date, though these were for the most part architectural rather than figure drawings (see, for example, Canaletto’s youthful drawings of Rome today mostly in the British Museum, to which Bellotto certainly had recourse). Many of Carlevarijs’ sheets have survived and a large part are today in the collections of the British Museum, London, the Museo Correr, Venice, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The sketches can be broadly divided into the following groups: pencil drawings of figures, merely outlined and with numerous studies on each sheet, which would have been used for the figures in the middle- and backgrounds of his painted compositions, and sheets with accurate pencil and wash drawings of galleys and other boats, which would serve to populate his various canal and lagoon views of Venice. Most unusually of all, there is also a large group of single-figure studies sketched in oil on canvas, all of which are at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which were used for many of the foreground figures in his painted compositions. Whilst numerous merchants or gondoliers in the present painting can be traced to the pencil line-drawings (see, for example, the gondolier lower left on a British Museum sheet, reproduced in Rizzi, op. cit., fig. 58, or the figures carrying loads on the sheet in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, ibid., fig. 29). Several painted figure studies in the Victoria & Albert Museum were used for the Kiplin View of the Molo. These include a sheet with two figures, one relating to the man seen frontally in the painting lower left, the other to the man wrapped in his cloak lower right (see figs. 3 and 9; ibid., fig. 38). For the group of figures gathered around the fish-seller in the foreground, just right of centre, a number of figure-studies survive: a gondolier who in the painting is adopted for the young man pointing (see fig. 5; ibid., fig. 21); and the young man in profile swinging his jacket over his left shoulder (see fig. 6; ibid., fig. 40); the man leaning forward, seen from behind and with his right leg resting on a box (see fig. 7; ibid., fig. 43; also reproduced by Beddington, op. cit., p. 18, fig. 16). Further studies that can be linked to the painting include a man seen from behind who in the painting appears lower centre, dressed in blue, white and red, talking to a group of gentlemen (see fig. 4; Rizzi, op. cit., fig. 41); and a sheet used for the man dressed in red, draped in a black coat and wearing a black hat, standing lower right in the painting (see fig. 8; ibid., fig. 15).