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Gallery Text

Born in the Dutch Republic but active in Rome, Vanvitelli gained fame for his vedute, or detailed views of cityscapes or vistas. These evocative views were popular purchases for eighteenth-century travelers on the Grand Tour. Here, Vanvitelli paints the ruins of the Colosseum washed in a soft afternoon “Roman” light. He carefully renders the arena, implicitly placing the viewer in the scene by lowering the viewpoint; the perspective also helps give a sense of the building’s colossal scale. Vanvitelli increases the effect by widening the panorama, which allows him to include nearby monuments like the Arch of Constantine, the top of which can be seen in the distance to the left of the Colosseum, and the Esquiline Hill on the right.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
2012.61
People
Gaspar van Wittel (called Vanvitelli), Dutch (Amersfort, Netherlands 1652 - 1736 Rome, Italy)
Title
The Colosseum Seen from the Southeast
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1700
Places
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Lazio, Rome
Culture
Dutch
Location
Level 2, Room 2240, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Arts in the Eighteenth–Century Atlantic World
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
72 x 125 cm (28 3/8 x 49 3/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower left corner, white oil paint: A
  • stamp: verso: grouping of two Italian import/export stamps, one diamond-shaped [pairing found once on the stretcher and once on the verso of the canvas combined with a date stamp, faded and illegible, both with “Roma”]
Provenance
Collection of the Ninth Duke of Medinaceli, Spain (no. 109 in the 1711 inventory). Collection of the Duchess of Almazán, Madrid, Spain. [François Heim, Paris (by 1962), sold]; to Paul E. and Gabriele B. Geier, Rome, Italy (?1962-2012), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Notes:

For object no. 109 in the Duke of Medinaceli’s inventory see: Vicente Lleó Cañal, “The Art Collection of the Ninth Duke of Medinaceli,” The Burlington Magazine, vol. 131, no. 1031 (Feb., 1989), p. 115, under no. 184.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Paul E. and Gabriele B. Geier
Accession Year
2012
Object Number
2012.61
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Canvas is without a frame.
Publication History

Giuliano Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel e l'origine della veduta settecentesca (Rome, Italy, 1966), cat. 35 p. 179

Mary Ann Scott, Dutch, Flemish, and German Paintings in the Cincinnati Art Museum: Fifteenth through Eighteenth Centuries, Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati, OH, 1987), under cat. 55 p. 149, p. 149 (n.11)

Giuliano Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel, Electa (Milan, Italy, 1996), cat. 63 p. 155, under cat. 366 p. 267, repr. pp. 82 (detail), 156

Chiostro del Bramante and Museo Correr, Gaspare Vanvitelli e le origini del vedutismo, exh. cat., Viviani Editore (Rome, Italy, 2002), under cat. 15 p. 103

Exhibition History

32Q: 2240 18th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 09/05/2019; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu