Lot No. 331


Joseph Heintz the Younger


(Augsburg circa 1600–Venice 1678)
The Battaglia dei Pugni on the Bridge of San Barnaba, Venice,
oil on canvas, 171 x 213 cm, framed

Joseph Heintz the Younger was active in seventeenth century Venice, and he can be credited with anticipating the great era of eighteenth-century Venetian view painting. He was the son of Joseph Heintz the Elder, one of the favoured artists at the court of Rudolph II in Prague. Heintz the Younger reached Venice during the early 1620s and he established himself there permanently, except for a Roman sojourn during the late 1640s. Here he became a celebrated artist and his success is suggested by the fact that in 1640 he was the painter who paid the largest amount of tax to the Venetian state, with the sole exception of Nicolò Ranieri.

In the majority of his view paintings Heintz displays the taste of a chronicler, describing Venetian public holidays with great anecdotal verve, such as the present painting. The representation of these engaging spectacles set within the city, presented the urban surroundings as a splendid backdrop to the unfolding of events.

The present painting records the competition called the ‘battaglia dei pugni’ (or fist fight) that was among the most colourful of Venetian events. The artist frames the present scene theatrically, capturing the atmosphere of the moment and recounting each detail of the battle between the factions of the Castellani and the Nicolotti. Until 1705 this battle was played out several times a year on various of the city’s bridges, among which the most contested was that of San Barnaba. The rivalry between the two groups stretched back to that between the settlements of Jesolo and Eraclea before the founding of Venice, when to escape invading barbarians forces the populations of the two centres took refuge in the lagoon, thereby establishing their respective territorial claims. The Castellani created the ‘sestieri’ or regions of Castello and Dorsoduro while the Nicolotti founded those of San Polo, Santa Croce and Cannareggio. The rivalry lasted for centuries, the most violent of which was the battle for the bridges, which had as its prize the possession of the bridge and the right to display the winning faction’s colours. The fighters were initially armed with sticks and canes, but the numbers of injured and dead were such that the Senate was forced to intervene and from 1574 weapons and armour were forbidden and only fist fights, or ‘battaglie a pugni’ were allowed. Despite these new restrictions the confrontations remained very violent.

The present work can be compared with another Joseph Heintz the Younger´s composition, dated 1673, conserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (inv. no. Gm 1917). Apart from small differences in the description of the animated scenes of engagement between the fighters, and of the attendant crowds looking on, the compositions of these two works are extremely similar.

Joseph Heintz the Younger was an artist who chronicled the lively events of Venetian life, and constructed a genre that would later be developed by Luca Carlevarijs and the great Venetian vedutisti of the eighteenth century. We are grateful to Dario Succi for his help in cataloguing this lot.

22.10.2019 - 18:30

Realized price: **
EUR 149,700.-
Estimate:
EUR 120,000.- to EUR 150,000.-

Joseph Heintz the Younger


(Augsburg circa 1600–Venice 1678)
The Battaglia dei Pugni on the Bridge of San Barnaba, Venice,
oil on canvas, 171 x 213 cm, framed

Joseph Heintz the Younger was active in seventeenth century Venice, and he can be credited with anticipating the great era of eighteenth-century Venetian view painting. He was the son of Joseph Heintz the Elder, one of the favoured artists at the court of Rudolph II in Prague. Heintz the Younger reached Venice during the early 1620s and he established himself there permanently, except for a Roman sojourn during the late 1640s. Here he became a celebrated artist and his success is suggested by the fact that in 1640 he was the painter who paid the largest amount of tax to the Venetian state, with the sole exception of Nicolò Ranieri.

In the majority of his view paintings Heintz displays the taste of a chronicler, describing Venetian public holidays with great anecdotal verve, such as the present painting. The representation of these engaging spectacles set within the city, presented the urban surroundings as a splendid backdrop to the unfolding of events.

The present painting records the competition called the ‘battaglia dei pugni’ (or fist fight) that was among the most colourful of Venetian events. The artist frames the present scene theatrically, capturing the atmosphere of the moment and recounting each detail of the battle between the factions of the Castellani and the Nicolotti. Until 1705 this battle was played out several times a year on various of the city’s bridges, among which the most contested was that of San Barnaba. The rivalry between the two groups stretched back to that between the settlements of Jesolo and Eraclea before the founding of Venice, when to escape invading barbarians forces the populations of the two centres took refuge in the lagoon, thereby establishing their respective territorial claims. The Castellani created the ‘sestieri’ or regions of Castello and Dorsoduro while the Nicolotti founded those of San Polo, Santa Croce and Cannareggio. The rivalry lasted for centuries, the most violent of which was the battle for the bridges, which had as its prize the possession of the bridge and the right to display the winning faction’s colours. The fighters were initially armed with sticks and canes, but the numbers of injured and dead were such that the Senate was forced to intervene and from 1574 weapons and armour were forbidden and only fist fights, or ‘battaglie a pugni’ were allowed. Despite these new restrictions the confrontations remained very violent.

The present work can be compared with another Joseph Heintz the Younger´s composition, dated 1673, conserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (inv. no. Gm 1917). Apart from small differences in the description of the animated scenes of engagement between the fighters, and of the attendant crowds looking on, the compositions of these two works are extremely similar.

Joseph Heintz the Younger was an artist who chronicled the lively events of Venetian life, and constructed a genre that would later be developed by Luca Carlevarijs and the great Venetian vedutisti of the eighteenth century. We are grateful to Dario Succi for his help in cataloguing this lot.


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Auction: Old Master Paintings II
Date: 22.10.2019 - 18:30
Location: Vienna | Palais Dorotheum
Exhibition: 12.10. - 22.10.2019


** Purchase price incl. charges and taxes

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