GIOVANNI BATTISTA LUSIERI (ROME 1754-1821 ATHENS)
GIOVANNI BATTISTA LUSIERI (ROME 1754-1821 ATHENS)
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FROM THE COLLECTION AT EASTNOR CASTLE
GIOVANNI BATTISTA LUSIERI (ROME 1754-1821 ATHENS)

A view of the Tiber Valley towards the North from Monte Mario

Details
GIOVANNI BATTISTA LUSIERI (ROME 1754-1821 ATHENS)
A view of the Tiber Valley towards the North from Monte Mario
signed ‘Titta f.’ (lower left, on the mount)
graphite, pen and black ink, watercolour, watermark ‘J HONIG/ &/ ZOONEN’
58.9 x 96.4 cm (223/4 x 37 in.)
Provenance
Philip Yorke, later 3rd Earl of Hardwicke (1757-1834), commissioned from the artist around 1778-1779; thence by descent at Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire.
Exhibited
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, Expanding Horizons. Giovanni Battista Lusieri and the Panoramic Landscape, 2012, no. 11, ill. (catalogue by A. Weston-Lewis).

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Lot Essay

Mentioned by Goethe (Philipp Hackert, la vita, Naples, 1788, p. 54), as Rome’s most beautiful vantage point, this view was drawn from Villa Mellini, which offered a wonderful scenic prospect over the Tiber valley. The topographical accuracy of the view is striking, with the Milvian bridge prolonging the via Flaminia running across the valley, and the Torre Lazzarone visible in the far distance. The meticulous definition of the lattice-work of fields may suggest that the artist also worked from a land register. The framing trees at the right in the foreground with their serpentine branches form a conventional repoussoir and were likely to have been introduced by the artist for compositional effect.
Drawn from opposite slopes but comparable in composition is a View of Rome from the Villa Mellini on Monte Mario in the Gemälde Galerie der Akademie der Bildenden Kunst in Vienna (inv. 403; op. cit., no. 10, ill.). While the version in Vienna dates to 1783, there is an earlier version of the same composition signed and dated 1779 which may have formed a pendant to the present view (private collection; sold in these Rooms, 12 December 2007, lot 200; see F. Spirito, Lusieri, Naples, 2003, no. 6). Both works present sophisticated tonal range and light effects.
Four autograph versions of this view are known, attesting to its popularity. A prototype without figures is in a private collection and would have served as a model to show potential clients. The present view, signed, was either purchased directly from the artist by Philip Yorke while in Rome or commissioned then and shipped to him back in England in 1781; it is mentioned in James Byres’ list of payments ‘2 views of Rome &c colour’d’ (for the complete list of payments see op. cit., p. 46).

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