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Title Landscape with the Colosseum
Collection English Heritage (Marble Hill House)
Artist Panini, Giovanni Paolo (Italian painter, ca. 1692-1765)
Date 1738 (dated)
Signed yes
Description One of a set of four over-doors and an over-mantel produced in 1738 for the decoration of the Great Room at Marble Hill House, the residence of the Countess of Suffolk, Panini's painting Landscape with the Colosseum was located to the right of the fireplace in a specially designed frame incorporating the painting within the rooms decorative scheme. Like the over-mantel Statues in a Ruined Arcade, the lighting in this picture follows the natural fall of light from the room's windows, suggesting Panini was informed of the final setting planned for his work. This painting is dominated on the right by the Colosseum, opened for gladiatorial games in AD 80 by Emporor Titus; in the foreground highlighting the original use of this monument, Panini has depicted the ancient sculpture known as The Borghese Gladiator, its dynamic thrusting gesture evokes the violence of armed combat. Discovered on a Borghese costal estate in 1611, this sculpture remained in the family collection until its sale to Napoleon in 1807 for the Louvre where it remains. Juxtaposed with these reminders of Rome's violent past, standing tall on the left Panini represents the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Forum, built in honour of the deified empress Faustina wife of Antoninus Pius after her death in 141 AD. At the foot of this monument to marital union, the Sarcophagus of Constantina (now in the Vatican Museum), recalls her father Constantine who introduced Christianity as the official Roman Imperial religion. In the distance beyond, the coffered structure is the Temple of Venus and Rome (also called the Temple of Love) built at the behest of Antoninus Pius and near by is the Pyramid of Cestius, built outside the city to commemorate Caius Cestius, the late 1st century BC Tribune of the People.
Current Accession Number 88029435
Former Accession Number 319
Inscription front lr 'I. PAUL PANINI / ROMAE / 1738'
Subject landscape; buildings and gardens (ruins)
Measurements 111.8 x 100 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased by English Heritage for Marble Hill House 1988.
Provenance Commissioned from the artist on behalf of Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk and probably at Marble Hill shortly after 1738; first recorded there in 1767 after the Countess' death; removed by Ernest Cunard from Marble Hill prior to its public purchase in 1902; London art trade, 1926; bought George Hay Whigham, then by descent to Margaret, Duchess of Argyll; Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 11 December 1974, lot 54; purchased by British Rail Pension Fund, from whom on loan to the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durhan; loan transferred to Greater London Council for Marble Hill House 1980-88.
Publications Arisi, F., Gian Paolo Panini e i fasti della Roma del ‘700, Rome, 1986, pp. 124-26, 358-60, cat. no. 253.
Notes Giovanni Paolo Panini (Piacenza 1691-1765 Rome) was the most celebrated view painter in eighteenth-century Rome. His early training in Piacenza may have been undertaken with the perspective specialist Ferdinando Galli Bibbiena, but following his move to Rome in 1711, the formative influences on his landscape style derive from the works of Jan Frans van Blomen and Andrea Locatelli as well as the topographical views of Gaspare Vanvittelli. Until 1717-18 he attended the drawing academy of Benedetto Luiti whose luminous colourism played a definitive role in lightening his palette. Panini's early career was marked by a series of commissions for landscape frescoes notably in the Quirinal Palace for Pope Innocent XIII in 1722. Although an engaging figure painter, Panini only began to concentrate exclusively on the easel paintings for which he is remembered today, later in his career, when he worked to meet the demand of Grand Tour visitors to the eternal city. His landscapes divide into two main types, vedute reali (accurate views rendered from life) and vedute ideate (imaginary views with combinations of monuments) these encompass practically all the notable architecture of ancient and modern Rome. Panini's additional professional interests included activity as an architect, designer of carvings and other ecclesiastical furnishings, the design of festival apparatus and other ephemeral architecture including stage sets, the production of firework displays and provision of 'art expert' services. Panini's successful career was marked by his election to numerous elite academies in Rome: in 1718 to the Congregazione dei Virtuosi al Pantheon; in 1719 to the Accademia di San Luca which he served as Principe. in 1754-55 and in 1743 to the Accademia degli Arcadi. In 1724 following the death of his first wife, Panini married Caterina Gosset, the daughter of Nicholas Vleughels the director of the French Academy, where Panini taught perspective, consequently exerting significant influence on the first generation of French Neoclassical landscape painters. In 1732 he was accorded a rare privilege among Roman painters being received as member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris.
Rights Owner © English Heritage Photo Library
Author Francesco Nevola




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