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View of the Gardens at the Villa Medici, Rome, with the statue of Ariadne
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
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Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

Sevilla, 1599 - Madrid, 1660

Miniatura autor

View of the Gardens at the Villa Medici, Rome, with the statue of Ariadne

Ca. 1630. Oil on canvas, 44 x 38 cm.

In late 1629, the thirty-year-old Velázquez went to Italy for the first time, remaining there for more than a year. During this trip he executed various history paintings, some portraits and at least two views of the gardens of the Villa Medici. While there have been differences of opinion about the dating of these views, the fact that the artist stayed at the Villa Medici for various months during this trip and that they are painted over a type of preparatory layer that he did not use again following his return from Italy suggest that they are two of the four little landscapes that the artist sold to Phillip IV in 1634. Velázquez`s interest in landscape at this relatively early date had precedents in his career: we know from Pacheco that his equestrian portrait of Phillip IV of 1625 was entirely painted from life, even the landscape (Pacheco 1649 (1990), p. 203) and Cassiano dal Pozzo praised the fine landscape in that equestrian image in 1626 (Dal Pozzo 2004, p. 112).

The two Roman landscapes both include a Serlian arch in the background, albeit depicted using different viewpoints. One (P01210) adopts a wider perspective, with the architectural structures and the cypress trees closing off the view in the background. The other one (P01211) is seen from closer up, with the Serlian arch occupying almost half the height of the composition, its openings allowing for a view through onto a group of buildings, trees and the sky. In the centre of this architectural feature is a sculpture of the sleeping Ariadne while on the left the artist included a man seen from behind, looking at the view. In the foreground a servant seems to be respectfully addressing a gentleman. In addition to being a logical reflection of Velázquez`s previously demonstrated interest in landscape, the origins of these views should be related to the rise of landscape as a pictorial genre in Rome at this time, particularly in the work of Claude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin, Pietro da Cortona and Agostino Tassi. A comparison with their masterpieces in this genre reveals the extent of Velázquez`s originality. In general, the landscapes painted by these other artists were executed in the studio and made use of highly structured compositions. They were landscape inventions, frequently based on a first-hand sketches but ultimately aiming at a recreation rather than a portrait of nature.

In contrast, Velázquez`s two views were not devised in the studio but were painted from life before the subject with the intention of offering a true portrait of a natural motif. Furthermore, they were not just portraits with regard to the inclusion of topographical information but also in their inclusion of information on the experience of real life. In both views the light, air and weather thus acquire unique importance. These elements are introduced into the scene through the figures in movement, the interplay of light and shadow and the vegetation, which together emphasize the temporal, ephemeral nature not just of the scene but also of the experience of landscape in general. In order to achieve this effect it was essential to make use of a confident, loose technique that emphasized colour over line and favoured general effects rather than lingering on individuals details. In this sense, Velázquez`s two views represent significant landmarks along the path that the artist would follow in his quest for increasingly pictorial formulas.

While these two works have on occasions been considered a point of arrival within Velázquez`s investigations into landscape, they should rather been seen as stages on a journey that would take him much further. This is evident in works such as Baltasar Carlos on Horseback (Museo del Prado, P1180), which denotes an even more radical step within this conception of landscape as the recreation of a direct experience in front of nature (Text from Portús, J.: Velázquez, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien, 2014, p. 303).

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Inventory number
P01211
Author
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Title
View of the Gardens at the Villa Medici, Rome, with the statue of Ariadne
Date
Ca. 1630
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
High/Height: 44 cm.; Width: 38 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, “tercera pieza de la Furriera”, 1747, n. 209; Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, “cuarto del infante don Antonio”, 1772, n. 209; El Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, n. 713; Royal Palace, Madrid, “secretaría de Estado”, 1814-1818, n. 713).

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Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 209.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la tercera pieza [...] {10418} 209 / Otra [pintura] de vn pais con vna ruina donde ay vna estatua y dos figuras de media vara en quadro original de Velazquez = 360 rs

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. 209.
Quarto del Infante Don Antonio [...] {14581-14582} 209-478 / Dos [pinturas] iguales que contienen dos sitios o entradas de jardines de Roma de media vara en quadro originales de Velazquez

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 713.
Otra [pintura]: Bosquejo de Velazquez: Perspectiva de Jardin, de media vara en quadro, marco viejo...200

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 713.
Secretaría de Estado [...] {22214-22215} 710-713 / media vara en quadro - entrada de vn jardin con dos figuras = especie de cenador con tres figuras - escuela de Velázquez

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 102.
Velazquez / 102. Boceto de un jardin con una especie de portico y varias figuras. / Alto 1 pie, 7 pulg; ancho 1 pie, 4 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1107.
1107.-Vista tomada en el jardín de la Villa-Medici, en Roma. / Alto 0,44. Ancho 0,38.-Lienzo.-(Compañero del anterior.) / Estancia abierta en el terrado de aquel jardin, con una elegante loggia al fondo; y bajo el arco central una estatua antigua, echada, que parece la de la de Cleopatra. / Véase la nota que ilustra el cuadro anterior. Colec. de Carlos III, Palacio del Buen Retiro; cuarto del infante D.Antonio.

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21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

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05.07.2011 - 25.09.2011

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Roma
23.03.2007 - 20.05.2007

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
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14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
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24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

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Location +

Room A (Temporary Exhibition)

Exposición Temporal
Update date: 18-11-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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