Claude Joseph Vernet
1714 – 1789

‘View of Villa Ludovisi’ c. 1747/49, with the Artist, his Wife and Child

Oil on canvas, 75 by 104 cms

Dated by Emilie Beck-Saiello, who is preparing the Catalogue Raisonné of Vernet, continuing the project of the late Phillip Conisbee, to 1747/49 (written confirmation)

This is the first version of the painting in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, commissioned by the Marquis de la Villette in 1746, and subsequently acquired by Catherine the Great. The commission was for four pairs of pictures, which were delivered over a couple of years, and Emilie Beck Saiello, who is preparing the catalogue raisonné of Vernet’s work, has written that this first version dates from the period between de la Villette’s commission and May 1749, when the paintings were delivered. Vernet made various changes to the design, introducing his wife’s features in the central figure, and his son Livio, born in 1747, as well as his own self-portrait. The setting is the gardens of Villa Ludovisi, and more specifically, the portico of the Casino Del Monte (now called ‘Villa Ludovisi’) which was incorporated into the gardens on the Pincio after the Ludovisi acquired the property from Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. The trick fountains were one of the tourist experiences of the Grand Tourist’s visit to Rome, and are recorded even in Guercino’s fresco in the Sala dei Paesaggi inside the Casino, which also houses his Aurora, painted in 1621.

Requested for the forthcoming exhibition at the Académie de France à Rome, Villa Medici “Sur le lieu.  L’ Académie de France à Rome au XVIII ième siècle et la fabrique du paysage.”