The Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, Rome

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The Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, Rome
The Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, Rome
The Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, Rome
Foto: Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, Rome
c.1752 (undated)
Black chalk and white heightening on prepared paper tinted with wash
Metric: 203 x 264 mm
Imperial: 8 x 10 1/2 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The view, recently identified by Robin Simon, shows the upper level of the terraced gardens of the Villa Farnese (Orti Farnesiani) on the Palatine Hill, Rome, with two aviaries. It is taken from the direction of the Forum, looking towards the terrace of the Fontanone (Great Fountain) which, in Wilson's drawing, is obscured by foliage.
Tercentenary 2014 (30)
One of a number of drawings by or from the collection of Adolf Friedrich Harper that came to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Unsigned; no inscription
Techniques and materials
The paper is nearly identical in size to two sheets of Wilson's in the Tate, D122 The Aqueduct of Nero and D123 View from the Capitol, dating from no later than 1752 and both views in Rome drawn in black chalk with white highlights on paper similarly prepared with wash. Their wash, however, is laid downwards, parallel to the shorter edge of the paper and thus at right angles to that in the present drawing. Robin Simon has remarked that the technique of all three is that of an early stage during Wilson's adoption of the contemporary French manner of drawing with black chalk on toned paper.
In 1550, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese acquired a northern portion of the Palatine Hill, where he had ruins from a Roman palace of Tiberius filled in and a summer residence built. The site overlooks the Roman Forum and is near the Arch of Titus. The garden was divided into quadrants with a fountain at its centre and arranged in terraces. Steps from terrace to terrace ran past the Ninfeo della Pioggia (a nymphaeum) to end in the Teatro del Fontanone. Aviaries were constructed above its two upper pavilions. These aviaries also appear in Giuseppe Vasi's Delle Magnificenze di Roma (vol. 10, 1761, plate 197) and were drawn by Fragonard at about the same time.
Related Works by Other Artists
[1] Giuseppe Vasi, Delle Magnificenze di Roma (Rome, vol. 10, 1761, plate 197)
[2] Jean Honoré Fragonard (J. Cailleux, Rome 1760-1770: Fragonard, Hubert Robert et leurs Amis, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Cailleux, Paris, 1983, nos. 23 and 24)
Critical commentary
Wilson's drawing seems to be the first of this subject. He also drew the Ionic capitals in the Farnese Gardens in 1752 (D228 Ionic Capitals, Private Collection, England). As Robin Simon has noted, that drawing in turn was copied by Wilson's pupils, Johan Mandelberg and Johannes Wiedewelt, c.1755-56, and subsequently engraved by Piranesi. The prominent squared ogee constructions surmounting each pavilion in Vasi's engraving, though not obvious in Wilson's drawing, are nevertheless faintly discernible.
Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 225