Exhibtion: Tivoli: Variations on a Landscape in the 18th Century | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Exhibtion: Tivoli: Variations on a Landscape in the 18th Century

December 08, 2010

Exhibtion: Tivoli: Variations on a Landscape in the 18th Century

Gaspar van Wittel, View of Tivoli. 1700, oil on canvas. The Walters Art Museum.

Have you been to Tivoli? What about 18th century Tivloi? (here is your chance!)

A city set on rising ground, a mere thirty miles from Rome; the town was celebrated in the age of Augustus, and promoted by Horace, it was visualized by Turner and Piranesi, described as splendid, rich with vegetation and olive trees.  The gardens and waterfalls inspired Fragonard, and you can see them in the painting above on the left.  It was the home of the Temple of Sibyl and Vestus; the excavation of the site made a famous place for excursions in the 18th century.  It was noted that those who wished to visit the city of Tivoli do so in May or October when the weather was most fair and dry.  All the buzz about the town brought artists there.

The Temple of Sibyl at Tivoli was famous as the oldest in the city, round and flanked by four splendid ionic columns.  By the end of the 18th century the Temple of Sibyl had been converted to a church, and visitors found nothing much on the interior.  Rather the exterior and setting were the main attraction of the site.

The hillside was so high it overlooked the town all the way to the sea, several waterfalls adding movement and a calmness through the area.  In the 18th century Tivoli was a best kept secret- highly appreciated when visited.  With its rich history and ideal surroundings it is no wonder the site became so popular, not only for tourists, but for art as well. 

The exhibition Tivoli: Variations on a Landscape in the 18th Century focuses on just that.  The paintings and drawings collected for the show illustrate how landscape changed over the years 1720-1830.

The exhibition will feature over fifty works created during the 18th century, the artists are varied and some you may know: Boucher, Piranesi, &c. Each artist viewed the same landscape and tried to capture it on canvas or paper.  Each result is different, and as you view the exhibition you can see the changes applied by the artists, the shifts in their views, and you may begin to see what drew them there in the first place!

The exhibition is being held at the Musée Cognacq-Jay, one of my favorite Parisian museums, from 18 November 2010 through 20 February 2011

If you cannot make it there is a catalog with full color illustrations and accompanying information on the show.
Some sites say the catalog is being released this December, but you can grab it now at Amazon.fr or artbooks.com  I will post other places to buy when they appear!  Please let us know if you make it to this show!


  1. I love the first painting. I lived a block away from the The Walters Art Museum, but don't remember seeing this painting. I'm not going to Paris anytime soon so I will wait until the painting returns to Baltimore.

  2. @andrew1860 the location at the Walters Art Museum according to their catalog is: Charles Street: Third Floor: 18th Century Art!