Paintings | 18th Century | Luigi Bazzani | View of the Campo Vaccino. The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina looking towards Santa Francesca Romana | Artwork profile

74 x 49 cm
Oil on canvas


View of the Campo Vaccino. The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina looking towards Santa Francesca Romana

Luigi Bazzani

The subject
The Roman Forum, heart of the business and of the politics of the Rome of the Caesars, was an inspiration for many artists that in the course of the centuries arrived in Rome from the whole of Europe to admire its stately grandeur. Yet in the 18th century, these journeys acquire a more important and educational role: Rome became one of the leading destinations of the so called “Grand Tour”, a long journey, that may also last for years, that the young British aristocrats took to Continental Europe, heading especially to the places of Classical culture. During these long stays the young men studied the culture, the politics but mainly the art of such places. In increasing the appeal of such journeys, the archaeological discoveries played a crucial role, since in that period these underwent a strong and continuous growth, and whole buried cities, such as Herculaneum and Pompeii, were being brought to light.

The painting
In contrast with the 18th century School of Roman Vedutism, which held the ruins as an imposing background for scenes of every day life of the common people like the shepherds with their cattle, in the 19th century artists reached a fuller understanding of the monuments’ intrinsic value, thus making them the true protagonists of their canvases and highlighting their dignified and silent immobility. This is the principle that guided the brush of Luigi Bazzani, a painter of Bolognese origin but of Roman adoption, who focused his work on the vestiges of antiquity, depicting, alongside with the Roman ruins, the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, ancient sites brought to light just a few decades before his birth, as he was conscious of the increasing favour that this kind of painting met amongst collectors. In Bazzani’s view, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the foreground is devoid of any human feature that may disturb the meditative silence reigning over the whole scene, a silence further emphasized by the use of a crepuscular light (a setting that seems to anticipate some elements of De Chirico’s metaphysical painting, where the same stillness and an almost mystical quiet are sovereign). And it is the light the element that Bazzani proves to be capable of handling with a certain ability, creating a pleasant contrast between the clear-cut and detailed lines of the temple’s carved marbles in the foreground and the more blurred shape of the Church of Santa Francesca Romana, further away in the background.