Rome, 1642 – 1707
Architectural Capriccio with plain columns
oil on canvas, cm 103×89
This pair of Architectural Capricci depicts the temples of ancient Rome, one shown on the left with plain columns and fluted pilasters, the other located on the right and decorated with fluted columns and plain pilasters, set against a naturalistic view that enhances the ancient Roman ruins. A beautiful chiastic interplay of views that makes the paintings read like an elegant pendant pair.
The two compositions lead us to one of the specialists in this iconographic genre, Domenico Roberti (Rome, 1642–1707), who painted the Capriccio in the Galleria Spada in Rome. The application of the paint, characterised by chiaroscuro contrasts, with both strong and subtle slants of light in the landscape backgrounds, recalls the painting in that Roman museum.
The dense vegetation with drooping branches, the large vase on top of a tall support and an inscription on the temple architrave are elements that feature constantly in Roberti’s architectural capricci.
This pair of capricci is indicative of the artist’s style, which, while comparable to that of Ghisolfi as his direct pupil, also seems to anticipate and then align with Panini’s landscape painting. In fact, it seems to draw heavily, but in an 18-century spirit, on the vein begun by Viviano Codazzi and continued by Ghisolfi and Panini, as a re-evocative synthesis of the vestiges of ancient Rome.