Studies of Two Gentlemen thumbnail 1
Studies of Two Gentlemen thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H , Case WD, Shelf 214, Box D

Studies of Two Gentlemen

Oil Painting
ca. 1700-ca. 1710 (painted)
Place Of Origin

Oil sketch of two men. On the left a man with his wig tied back stands with his right hand on his hip whilst resting his left on a cane. On the right a man in a full bottomed wig carries a tricorn hat under his left arm.

object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'Studies of Two Gentlemen', Luca Carlevarijs, ca. 1700-ca. 1710
Physical Description
Oil sketch of two men. On the left a man with his wig tied back stands with his right hand on his hip whilst resting his left on a cane. On the right a man in a full bottomed wig carries a tricorn hat under his left arm.
  • Approx. height: 20.1cm
  • Approx. width: 16.6cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Credit line
Purchased from the funds of Captain H. B. Murray's bequest.
Object history
Purchased, 1938

Historical significance: Painter, engraver and architect, Luca Carlevarijs (1633-1730) has long been acknowledged as the first Italian painter of Venetian views. Although he worked in other genres, it is for his views of Venice that Carlevarijs is possibly best known. Following the death of his father, also an artist, Carlevarijs left his native Udine to live in Venice with his sister. He was soon discovered by the powerful Venetian Zenobio family who lived in the same quartiere or district as the young artist. It is believed that the artist travelled to Rome when he was young. In Rome he would have been exposed to the view paintings of one of the first masters of this genre Gaspare van Wittel. On his return to Venice Carlevarijs began to produce views of his adopted city. One of the seminal works was the artist’s volume of printed views titled: Le fabriche e vedute di Venezia disegnate poste in prospettiva et intagliate da Luca Carlevaris. Published in 1703, this book consists of 104 views of Venice. It was the most complete survey of the fabric of the city ever produced and served as a model for Venetian view painters throughout the 18th century. The work was highly influential with many later view painters, including Canaletto, borrowing from it for their own paintings. Perhaps due to his friendship with the Zenobio family, Carlevarijs enjoyed the patronage of many Venetian families. Other contemporary Venetian view painters such as Guardi and Canaletto painted mainly for the export market, making Carlevarijs’ role in Venetian society unusual. Following his Arrival of the 4th Earl of Manchester in Venice in 1707 (1707; Birmingham, Mus. & A.G.), many of Carlevarijs’ paintings combine grouping of figures against the backdrop of Venice in rich, colourful and dramatic compositions. In 1712 he was working in Conegliano and in 1714 he returned to Udine to work as architectural supervisor for the Cathedral. A portrait of the artist shows him with pair of dividers, suggesting that he had some form of mathematical training. His name appears on a list of confraternity of Venetian Painters in the years 1708-13, 1712, and 1726.

This is one of Carlevarijs’ studies known as macchiette, the quick sketches he made with daubs of colour to indicate animated Venetian figures. Carlevarijs first drew the figures on paper, copying them from people he saw in the streets and then transformed them into lively oil sketches, such as this one, which represent a crucial part of his artistic process. Studies such as these would ultimately form part of a Venetian veduta or prospect painting, which is a genre Carlevarijs is generally credited with establishing in the eighteenth century. This canvas shows two studies of men. The man on the left turns, showing ribbon tying his wig back at the nape of his neck. He wears blue breeches and a coat of the same fabric edged with red. He stands with his right hand on his hip whilst resting his left on a cane. The right hand figure turns out to look at us. He wears a full bottomed wig and a suit comprising of breeches and overcoat of matching brown. Under his left arm he carries a tricorn hat.

Carlevarijs populated his vedute with elegantly posed and well-dressed figures, concealing the decline of the Republic under the splendour of the pageants, festivals and regattas he often represented. These figures do not appear in together in any known painting by Carlevarijs, as shown in this sketch. However they do recur individually in a number of the artist’s paintings. The left-hand figure reappears for example in San Marco (Lehman Collection, New York); Piazza Sam (Private Collection, see: Rizzi, figs. 96-99) and in Piazza San Marco with Charlatans (Berlin). The figure on the right can be seen in the Piazza San Marco with a market (See Rizzi, figs 101-3). Carlevarijs' sketches also demonstrate his great influence on Canaletto, whose figures and their arrangement often show a marked debt to the older Master such as in Venice: The Feast Day of Saint Roch ca. 1735 (National Gallery, London, NG937).


Rizzi, Aldo. Luca Carlevarijs, (Alfieri: Venice, 1967)
Historical context
This work is part of an album of fifty-three sketches by Carlevarijs which includes figures he appears to have painted in the open air in preparation for insertion into formal compositions. The figures and objects appear frequently and virtually without variations in his paintings between 1707 and 1726 and are closely related to his etchings of 1703 in Le fabriche e vedute di Venetia. Composed of 104 views of Venice, the etchings formed the most complete survey of the fabric of the city ever produced and served as a model for Venetian view painters throughout the 18th century. Carlevarijs' sketches reveal a particular attention to costume, highlighting Venetian style of dress which was highly regarded in fashionable circles throughout Europe from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The maritime republic imported raw materials from the Far East and exported finished products including highly desirable velvets and brocades. The taste for Venetian textiles persisted into the 18th century. In this period however, Venice's power was dwindling and her government corrupt. The city nevertheless sought to present a facade of a wealthy city peopled with bright and gregarious multitude engaged in pleasurable pursuits. As Carlevarijs stated in the dedication to Le fabriche, he intended his paintings to 'rendere più facile alla notitzia de Paesi stranieri le Venete Magnificenze' [render more clearly the magnificence of Venice to foreign countries]
Place Depicted
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 56-63, cat. no. 60 (P.26-1938 - P.78-1938)
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1938, London: Board of Education, 1939.
Accession Number

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record createdMay 8, 2007
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