An Artist Sketching an Elegant Company ("Il Caffè")
c. 1750-55
Pietro Longhi (Italian, 1702-1781)
On View

This painting illustrates beautifully Longhi's gift for depicting the bourgeoisie doing nothing, but with great style. His editorial comments lacked the bitter, satiric edge of those by Hogarth or Goya. Rather, he adhered to the role of an intimate chronicler who captured with penetration and a subtly ironic viewpoint the low-key, bourgeois character of the eighteenth-century Venetian aristocracy. He created carefully arranged compositions and frequently cast his group portraits around a table scene. Included here is his own self-portrait, appropriately as the artist sketching the activity at hand.


  • Artist Name: Pietro Longhi (Italian, 1702-1781)
  • Title: An Artist Sketching an Elegant Company ("Il Caffè")
  • Date: c. 1750-55
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 24 x 19-7/16 in. (61 x 49.4cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.2012.1.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Gambardi family, Florence (said to have been painted by the artist for the family),
by inheritance to;
Count Giacomo Miari de Cumani, Padua, until ca. 1908[?], to[?];
[(?) Carlo Balboni, Venice and Ferrara, to];
Professor Elia Volpi, Florence and New York (sale, New York, American Art Galleries, 17-19 December 1917, lot 441, to);
E. Segrè, for(?);
Lionello Perera, New York, by inheritance to;
Mrs. Lionello Perera, New York (sale, London, Sotheby’s, 24 June 1964, no. 31, to);
[Julius Weitzner].
[Hallsborough Gallery, London, sold 1969 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation, transferred in 2012 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Special Loan Exhibition: Venetian Painting of the Eighteenth Century

  • City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1936-03-01 to 1936-03-31

Venetian Painting of the Eighteenth Century

  • New York, Knoedler & Company, 1936-04-06 to 1936-04-18

Age of Elegance: The Rococo and Its Effect

  • Baltimore Museum of Art, 1959-04-25 to 1959-06-14

Dal Ricci al Tiepolo

  • Venice, Palazzo Ducale, 1969-06-07 to 1969-10-15

From Butinone to Chagall, Fine Paintings and Drawings of Six Centuries

  • London, Hallsborough Gallery, 1965-05-12 to 1965-07-23

Masterpieces of Five Centuries, Forty-Eight Paintings and Sculptures from the Norton Simon Foundation and the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum

  • Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1972-10-04 to 1973-11-04

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13
  • Pignatti, Terisio, Pietro Longhi, pl. 187 p. 89
  • Bagemihl, Rolf, Metropolitan Museum Journal, fig. 5 pp. 233-247
  • McCorquodale, Charles, The Connoisseur, fig. 8
  • Sloane, Margaret D., Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 52
  • Moschini, V., Pietro Longhi, pl. 157
  • Valcanover, F., Venezia e Europa, 1956, p. 362
  • Pignatti, Terisio, Il Museo Correr di Venezia, Dipinti del XVII e XVIII secolo, 1960, p. 178
  • Rava, Aldo, Pietro Longhi, 1968, pl. 31b
  • Pignatti, Terisio, Pietro Longhi: Paintings and Drawings, 1969, pl. 187 p. 76
  • Zeri, Frederico, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Venetian School, 1973, p. 38
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 98
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 626 p. 320
  • Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, 2014, p. #42
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