The idiosyncratic style and proto-Romantic spirit of the present lot place it firmly in the tradition of northern Italian landscape painting in the late 17th century. It clearly has its roots not in the earlier classicizing tradition of Annibale Carracci and Nicolas Poussin, but in the romantic imagination of Salvator Rosa. Rosa’s occult landscapes, peopled by witches, monsters and bandits, inspired a generation of artists, both in Italy and abroad, to explore the emotive impact of painting nature: landscape was no longer conceived as a placid space or background through which characters moved, but as the main protagonist of the composition. This lot, with its evocation of movement and mood, is reminiscent of the work of Pietro Montanini, a pupil of Rosa, and Antonio Francesco Peruzzini, whose reputation as an original and groundbreaking landscape artist has been restored in recent decades, after he was neglected for centuries. His role as a habitual collaborator, first with Sebastiano Ricci, and then Alessandro Magnasco, have shown him to be one of the leading painters of nature of his time. Here, the shaping of the trees and the licks of paint that skilfully describe the form of the mountains, the rocky slopes and the leaves reveal an assured and inventive hand that can be compared to Peruzzini’s work of the 1690s, such as the pair of landscapes held in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt (see Antonio Francesco Peruzzini, Ancona, Mole Vanvitelliana, 28 July – 9 November 1997, pp. 90-91, nos. 10-11).