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Views of Italy
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This panoramic view of the Roman Forum, known in earlier centuries as the Campo Vaccino, or cattle market, is made from hundreds of pieces of inlaid enamel glass in a medium known as micromosaic. Seen from right to left, the colonnade on the right is the Temple of Saturn; the smaller one to its left is the Temple of Castor and Pollux; the obelisk in the distance is the Column of Phocas, the last addition to the Roman Forum in 608 A.D.; to its left is the Arch of Septimus Severus, and beyond that in the left background is the dome of the church of Saints Luke and Martina.
The ancient mosaic technique was brought to Rome by artisans from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the center of mosaic work in Italy, in the late 16th century. As great Renaissance paintings on the walls of Saint Peter’s Basilica began deteriorating from environmental conditions, church officials decided to replace them with mosaic replicas and relocated the canvas originals elsewhere in the Vatican. At this time, Pope Gregory XIII (r. 1572 – 85) also commissioned new mosaics in the domes and chapels of St. Peter’s.
In the early nineteenth century, several of the artisans trained at Saint Peter’s Basilica began opening private micromosaic shops in Rome, concentrated in the area of the Piazza di Spagna, to capitalize on the flourishing tourist market and the demand for souvenirs of the major Roman landmarks. Victorian travelers who could afford micromosaic views were drawn more towards the colorful, exquisitely crafted scenes than the neoclassical etchings of Piranesi favored by their predecessors.
While ancient mosaics employed square stone pieces known as tesserae, their Victorian descendants were made from much smaller pieces of opaque enamel called smalti, created in the form of long thin tubes called filati that were cut and set into a slow-drying oil-based mastic which allowed the artist more time to work on his composition. By the 18th century the artisans had developed more than 28,000 different tints which enabled them to create subtle tonal ranges approaching those of oil painting.
Carriage is about 1.2 cm tall
Horse is about 1 cm tall
Cartographer and cosmographer Sebastian Münster’s tremedously influential Renaissance compendium of maps and views, known as the Cosmographia, first appeared in 1544, and was re-issued in about 40 subsequent editions in various languages up until 1628. The volume had a major impact on sixteenth century geographical knowledge and inspired others to produce rival atlases (see below). The Cosmographia differed from its successors in that it contained woodcuts of creatures, people and battle scenes, with an interest in documenting the fantastical, in addition to over 80 panoramic city views and maps.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the preeminent topographical etcher and graphic designer who produced more than 1,000 individual etchings, was the son of a stonemason and master builder. Born near Venice where he studied architecture and theater design, Piranesi first moved to Rome in 1740 as a draftsman to the Venetian ambassador, where he became fascinated with the ruins of ancient buildings that proliferated throughout the city.
As he later wrote:
When I saw in Rome how most of the remains of ancient buildings lay scattered through gardens and ploughed fields where they dwindled day by day … I resolved to preserve them by means of engravings. I have therefore drawn these ruins with all possible exquisiteness.
At the age of 28 he produced his first printed views, a group of 28 small etchings of Triumphal Arches and Other Monuments.
The etching displayed here was published in his most famous work, the 135 large Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) which Piranesi worked on from the late 1740s until shortly before his death. These tremendously popular Italian views were circulated throughout Europe and England, helping establish Italy as the primary destination for the dilettante’s Grand Tour. However, many of Piranesi’s younger contemporaries, including Goethe and the English sculptor John Flaxman, were disappointed when they saw the actual sites, which did not live up in their minds to the majestic scale and grandeur of Piranesi’s landscapes, often embellished by theatrical artifice.
In addition to several other early, unbound impressions from the Vedute series, the Library also owns a complete set of all Piranesi’s etched works, bound together in 21 large folio volumes for the personal Library of Pope Gregory XVI and published in Paris by Firmin Didot in 1835-39.
This aerial view of Rome is photographed from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, one of the first great city atlases, a first edition of which is held in Special Collections. The ambitious, six-volume tome, published in large folio size, was inspired by Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia (1544; see above). Georg Braun, the editor, and Franz Hogenberg, the main engraver (succeeded by Simon van den Neuwell for the last two volumes), labored for twenty years to produce this ostensibly comprehensive presentation of modern cities world-wide. With a total of 546 prospects, birds-eye views and city maps, it provided the contemporary reader with a multitude of travel destinations. The vertical line down the center is where the map was bound into the volume by its original owner, French diplomat Gaspard Coignet de la Thuilerie, comte de Courson (1596/97-1653).
The Ponte Fabricio is the oldest bridge in Rome that is still in use, spanning half of the Tiber River from the Campus Martius on the east side to the Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) in the middle. According to Dio Cassius, the bridge was built in 62 B.C., the year after Cicero was consul, to replace an earlier wooden bridge destroyed by fire. It was commissioned by Lucius Fabricius, the curator of the roads and a member of the gens Fabricia of Rome. Completely intact from Roman antiquity, it has been in continuous use ever since.
This view of the Ponte Fabricio looks from the north along the bridge to the tiny island. The shorter of the two towers is the 11th-century Caetani tower, and the larger one on the left is the 16th-century bell-tower of the Basilica San Bartolomeo. San Bartolomeo was founded as a hospice in 1584 and still operates as a hospital today. The church was built on the site of a ruined temple that had been dedicated to Aesculapius, the Roman god of healing.
American architectural etcher and engraver Louis Conrad Rosenberg first studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then enrolled at the Royal College of Art, London, to study etching techniques under Malcolm Osborne. Rosenberg concluded his education in Rome at the American Academy.
During his career Rosenberg etched and engraved many architectural views throughout both Europe and the United States. Of major interest were the buildings of Rome, Venice and Constantinople: he created an impressive collection of views of these three cities over of period of more than twenty years. For these works Rosenberg was awarded the Silver Medal from the California Print Maker’s Society (1924) and the Logan Medal from the Chicago Society of Etchers (1925 and 1927).
Florence & Tuscany
In this unusual side view of the cathedral or duomo of Santa Maria Assunta in Siena, British artist Andrew Affleck captured the multiple arches and columns along the exterior, framing a distant view of the 14th century bell tower known as the Torre della Mangia. The cathedral’s exterior was completed in the mid-13th century in the high gothic style. Siena’s duomo is noted for its unusual bands of alternating white and black marble, with elaborate marble inlays on the floor by Domenico Beccafumi.
Barriviera was born in Montebelluna in 1906. He attended a technical school in Florence until 1927, but at the same time he cultivated his artistic skills and in 1925 at the age of nineteen he produced his first engravings. In 1932 he moved to Venice, where he studied at the engraving school of the Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1934 he moved to Rome with his family. During his long, successful career, Barriviera taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples and in Rome; he also served as a member of the “War Artists” group during World War II.
Barriviera was an extremely prolific artist, producing more than 950 plates over his lifetime. His main medium was etching, but he also experimented with other techniques: oil painting, fresco, wood-carving, stained glass, mosaics, ceramics, embossing, stamp engraving and even jewelry-making. In later life, as his artistic production decreased, he devoted his energies to writing a manual of engraving techniques, l’Incisione e la Stampa Originale, published the year before his death in 1985. He is considered a leader of the “Venetian school” of twentieth-century engraving, which focused on the landscape.
“Sand diggers” (renaioli in Italian) were workers who harvested sand and gravel from the riverbeds to be sorted, graded, and used in building construction. They used shovels or large, long-handled ladles to dig out the sand and low, flat barge-like boats to ferry the sand back to shore. Renaioli worked on the river Arno up until very recently, recovering everything from finest sand used in plaster up to marble pillars used to restore grand palazzi.
Austrian artist Hans Figura is known for his landscapes of cities and scenes in continental Europe created mostly in the 1920s and 30s. He worked in color etching and lithography, and often printed his works on silk instead of paper. Here he depicted the Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano, a medieval walled city known for its towers. Its picturesque views make San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990, a popular destination for day-tourists from nearby Siena or Florence.
This drypoint etching depicts a typical farm in the hilly region of Abruzzi in central Italy, which borders on the Adriatic Sea. The area is home to the Apennine mountain range, with the highest peak of Mount Corno, at 9,560 feet.
Artist William Evan Charles Morgan studied art at the Slade School in his native London, and was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome medal at the age of 21 with his wood engraving The Expulsion. The award provided a three-year scholarship to the British School in Rome, where Morgan refined his skills in intaglio print making on copper. While studying in Rome, Morgan made frequent sketching trips to rural areas including the Abruzzi region, and some of those drawings were transferred to the copper plate after he had returned to England. Among them, this drypoint etching is accompanied by a similar scene called Italian Hill Cottage. The Special Collections Research Center holds 49 of the 51 known prints made by Morgan, and mounted a solo exhibition of them in 1994.
The Uffizi Gallery was built starting in 1560 as a palace for Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici (1519 – 1574), also containing offices for his chief magistrates (uffizi is Italian for offices). It covers an area of about 8,000 square meters and contains one of the most important art collections worldwide. The Uffizi was also the first museum open to the public: Grand Duke Cosimo I (1519 – 1574) granted permission to visitors by request starting in 1591, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public. Its four centuries of history make the Uffizi Gallery the oldest museum in the world.
One of France’s foremost engravers of the twentieth century, Albert Decaris began his formal art studies at the age of fourteen. Four years later he was accepted into the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and studied in the studios of Carmon and Laguillermie. Within six months of his graduation Decaris had won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome and became the youngest student ever to win this prestigious honor.
Decaris was known for his method of painstaking sketchwork and preparation followed by swift, sure work on his plates. Samuel Chamberlain wrote, “Once the vision of what he desires is fully imprinted on his mind, he is not hindered by details, by technical difficulties, gaping crowds, sweltering studios. The accomplishments of pushing delicate ravines through a copper plate with a burin, of biting impossibly rich blacks with nitric acid, of spreading sepia washes which dry with miraculous effect, all of these he takes for granted and promptly forgets.”
Between 1935 and 1985 Albert Decaris created more than six hundred stamps for France and its territories. Held in equally high esteem for his architectural, historical, landscape, portrait and figurative engravings, he became a full member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1943 and was nominated its President in 1960. In 1962 Decaris was named the official painter of the Marine Française.
In his long and prolific career, Rudy Pozzatti mastered the techniques of intaglio, woodcut, lithography, and silkscreen, and learned to work with the inherent qualities of each so that they complemented and enlivened his own artistic pursuits. His abilities earned him an international reputation as an artist and master printer.
Born in the United States of Italian immigrant parents, Rudy Pozzatti actively sought his roots in the Italian Tyrol and traveled to Italy at every opportunity. His work always revealed a reverence for the art and the religion of his ancestry, often exploring themes and issues surrounding Catholicism.
Palazzo, Florence was commissioned by the Print Club of Cleveland in 1955, soon after Pozzatti returned from a year-long trip to Florence on a Fulbright scholarship.
Although Pozzatti never abandoned subject matter for pure abstraction, in Palazzo the image seems to exist less as a visual record than as a reminder of the artist’s moment of creation; the physical act of working the plate attains a kind of subliminal frenzy that all but overwhelms the subject. This kind of printmaking is expressionist in the fullest sense of the word.
During the early part of his career, Edward Brandard was best known for his steel engraved illustrations after various contemporary painters. Brandard, along with his brother Robert, worked closely with Turner, who was a frequent visitor to their family home, and exhibited regularly at both the Royal Academy and the British Institution.
By the late 1830s Turner was aware that there was a market for prints of the most celebrated works in recent Academy exhibitions. Venice from the Porch of the Madonna della Salute (1835; exhibited at the Academy that year) was one of the first group of paintings he selected for reproduction. The first engraving published of this view was done by William Miller in 1838. The engraving shown here by Brandard was included in the large volume entitled The Turner Gallery (see below) published in New York in 1879.
The difficulties of reproducing Turner’s paintings were clear to engravers of that time, though because of his close supervision of the process, some of the details that could otherwise have been lost were refined and more precisely delineated in the engravings. Converting the finely nuanced effects in this and other late paintings was a laborious process that usually occupied an engraver for up to two years. It was said that Brandard was the last of the steel engravers to work under Turner’s personal supervision.
Consummate draftsman John Taylor Arms was fascinated by European Medieval architecture and made it the focus of much of his work. In his goal of expressing the essential spirit of what he believed to be mankind’s most inspired creations, he sought to emulate Piranesi (see above) and others whom he felt captured their subjects’ essence and not just their physical appearance. These two prints, from Arms’s 27-work Italian Series, present two Venetian images to the viewer which exist outside of time as opposed to in any particular moment.
Venetian Filigree depicts the Ca’ d’Oro on the Grand Canal. The daring off-center composition is balanced by the building façade’s symmetrical elevation, with its right angles and flat surface offset by intricate and graceful tracery.
Bella Venezia, on the other hand, uses a panoramic view where the Grand Canal is as important a compositional element as the buildings around the Piazza San Marco. The reflections in the still water, although faint, are just as lovingly rendered as the structures themselves.
Both etchings are grand examples of Arms’s meticulous technique. He records working for well over 2,000 hours on the preparation of a plate similar to Venetian Filigree in its amount of detail, but not as large.
Known for his modernist paintings and color woodblock prints, the Scandinavian-born Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt also created etchings early in his career that reveal the influence of the Whistlerian aesthetic. One of 10 siblings of Scandinavian parents, Nordfeldt immigrated with his family to Chicago at the age of 13. He was gifted at drawing, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago for a year while working for a Swedish newspaper. The next few years were spent abroad in Paris, England and Sweden, where he taught drawing, learned the technique of Japanese woodcut prints, and exhibited a painting at the Salon des Artistes Français. In 1906 he won a silver medal at the International Print Exhibition in Milan, Italy.
Nordfeldt published a series of etchings in Harper’s and the magazine Outlook between 1908 and 1913 that took him to Spain and Italy, with an extended stay in Venice. This view of boats along the Grand Canal is related to an illustration for an article in the November, 1913 issue of Harper’s entitled “Unusual Venice,” by Mary Heaton Vorse.
The famous Rialto Bridge, built in 1588-91 by the aptly named architect Antonio da Ponte, was the only bridge to span Venice’s Grand Canal until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854. Its unique design includes a central pedestrian aisle lined with shops, and two elaborate outside walkways that afford spectacular views of the canal.
Lester George Hornby was a talented etcher who traveled across Europe sketching the sites and views of local interest. During World War I he served as a commissioned war artist who documented the battles of the Marne, the Argonne and the Meuse. The Special Collections Research Center has more than 80 etchings by Hornby.
This seldom-seen view of Santa Maria della Salute shows the smaller of the church’s two domes and its two campanili (bell towers). It was taken from the smaller Canale della Giudecca to the south of the church instead of the more usual view of the front from the Canale Grande.
Donald Shaw MacLaughlan grew up on a farm on Prince Edward Island in Canada. In 1890, he moved to Boston with his family where he studied art under J.W.O. Hamilton. By 1898, he had settled in Paris to complete his education at the École des Beaux-Arts; many of the works that gained him recognition were created when he lived and worked first in France and later in Italy.
Within a very short period of time MacLaughlan had established his reputation for etching. In 1901 two of them were accepted by the Salon de la Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and in 1903 he was elected an Associate of the Salon. Etchings created during this period, such as Ruelle du Pecheur, had widespread influence on artists of many nationalities. MacLaughlan even instructed other expatriate Canadian artists then living in Paris, most notably Clarence Gagnon and Frank and Caroline Armington. From 1905 to 1914, he lived and worked at Asolo near Venice, Italy.
In 1630 a plague epidemic entered Venice, killing a third of the population. The Venetian Senate decreed, in hope that the plague should abate, that a new church should be built and dedicated to the Santa Maria della Salute (Saint Mary of Health). In 1631 the plague was defeated, and construction began under the direction of 33-year-old architect Baldassarre Longhena.
Every year, on 21 November, the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin, the city’s officials process from San Marco to the Salute for a service of thanksgiving. This involves crossing the Grand Canal on a specially constructed pontoon bridge. The Festa della Madonna della Salute is still a major event in Venice.
German painter and etcher Paul Geissler studied art in Weimar under Max Thedy. For most of his career, Geissler lived and worked in the city of Munich. During the 1920s and 1930s Paul Geissler’s etchings reached an international reputation. He etched views in France, Spain, Italy and England and in 1929, he was commissioned by the city of New York to depict some of the principal buildings in a series of etchings. His return trip to Germany took him through Sicily and the Italian mainland; it is likely that the etching of the Salute shown here was created at that time.
In this preliminary drawing and subsequent etching we see the majestic church of Santa Maria della Salute on the tip of the island of Dorsoduro in Venice. This spectacular view, on the opposite side of the Grand Canal from St. Mark’s Square, has inspired artists for centuries. The massive dome of the church, above the colonnaded building known as the Dogana di Mare, or Sea Customs Post, appears to have risen out of the canal to capture the admiration of all who look upon it.
Chester Leich was born in Evansville, Indiana, but most of his youth was spent abroad, primarily in Germany. He began his art studies at the age of twenty-one in Florence under Giovanni Giacometti, a Swiss artist and father of the famous sculptor Alberto. He then moved to Munich and Hamburg, where he continued his art training until 1915, returning to the United States when conditions deteriorated prior to the First World War. In the twenties, Leich worked in Evansville, Chicago, and New York, and exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute, and in Milwaukee and New York. He and his family traveled in Europe during the following decade and settled in the American southwest in 1937.
British artist Nelson Ethelred Dawson was trained as an architect but established himself as a painter of marine views in the bohemian London suburb of Chelsea, where he became friends with Whistler, Sir Frank Brangwyn, and other late Victorian artists. In this view of the campanile, or bell tower on St. Mark’s Square, one can see Dawson’s prowess as an architectural draftsman, combined with the rapid, sketchy technique popularized by Whistler.
As an etcher, Dawson preferred the soft ground medium which produces the effect of a soft crayon drawing. By adding tallow (or grease) to the etching ground on a copper plate, the substance remains in a semi-hard or tacky condition. A paper is placed over the plate and the image drawn with a pencil or other pointed device. When the paper is lifted off the plate, the ground sticks to the drawn lines on the paper, exposing them on the copper. Then the plate is submerged in acid, which bites into the lines, and the plate is then inked and printed.
Dawson’s reputation is primarily as a craftsman in metal, a medium which proved more lucrative than painting. At the height of the British Arts and Crafts movement, Dawson and his first wife, also an artist, produced scores of fine metal objects, both utilitarian and decorative, including enameled jewelry.
Saint Mark’s Basilica, a monument to the Venetian empire, is unique both in its wealth of history and the magnificence of its façade and interior. While the basic structure of the building has been little altered since its consecration in 1098, its decoration changed greatly over time. The following centuries all contributed to its adornment, and seldom did a Venetian vessel return from the Orient without bringing a column, capital, or frieze taken from some ancient building, to add to the fabric of the basilica. Gradually, the exterior brickwork became covered with various marbles and carvings, some much older than the building itself.
Karoly’s skillful draughtsmanship and meticulous etching bring some order to the chaos of the basilica, famously described by influential Victorian art critic John Ruskin in this passage from The Stones of Venice:
… [T]here rises a vision out of the earth, and all the great square seems to have opened from it in a kind of awe, that we may see it far away; a multitude of pillars and white domes, clustered into a long low pyramid of coloured light; a treasure-heap, it seems, partly of gold, and partly of opal and mother-of-pearl, hollowed beneath into five great vaulted porches, ceiled with fair mosaic, and beset with sculpture of alabaster, clear as amber and delicate as ivory—sculpture fantastic and involved, of palm leaves and lilies, and grapes and pomegranates, and birds clinging and fluttering among the branches, all twined together into an endless network of buds and plumes; and, in the midst of it, the solemn forms of angels, sceptred, and robed to the feet, and leaning to each other across the gates, their figures indistinct among the gleaming of the golden ground through the leaves beside them, interrupted and dim, like the morning light as it faded back among the branches of Eden, when first its gates were angel-guarded long ago.
A Hungarian born painter and etcher of figure studies, landscape and city views, Andrew Karoly studied art in Budapest before the outbreak of World War I. After the War ended in 1918 he began to produce paintings and etchings of scenes in Italy, Germany and particularly France. Karoly came to live in New York around 1920. During the years of the Great Depression, Andrew Karoly worked on a number of art projects commissioned by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), including several large, public murals. At this time he often collaborated with another well known Hungarian/American painter and etcher, Louis Szanto.
Villas & Gardens
Hans Alexander Müller was first a student, then a professor at the Leipzig Art Academy, where he taught woodcut and wood engraving for 17 years. He immigrated to America in the late 1930s and published an influential book, Woodcuts and Wood Engravings: How I Make Them, in 1939. Müller’s lyrical wood engravings illustrated several classic editions such as Don Quixote, Kidnapped, and Treasure Island.
George Loring Brown was one of the most popular of the expatriate American artists living in Italy in the mid-19th century. A native of Boston, Brown settled in Italy in 1839-40 where he lived for nearly twenty years. During the 1850s his studio in Rome was frequented by tourists who would purchase or commission a painting of their favorite Italian view. The idyllic hill town of Tivoli, about 18 miles east of Rome, was one of Brown’s favored subjects. The town could be visited in a day trip, via a carriage ride of approximately 4 hours, a popular destination for many visitors to Rome at that time. The area features natural wonders with its dramatic cascading waterfalls, the ancient Temple of the Sybil on the cliff top, as well as the nearby Villa d’Este.
In 1853-54 Brown created a series of 9 etchings of the Roman campagna, including this view of the cascades at Tivoli. His 1850 oil on canvas of Tivoli and its falls is in the collection of the Newark Museum.
The Villa d’Este is a sixteenth-century villa situated at Tivoli, near Rome that was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este (1509 – 1572), son of Alfonso I d’Este and Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of Pope Alexander VI. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, it is a masterpiece of Italian architecture and garden design. Drawing inspiration (and many statues and much of the marble used for construction) from the nearby Villa Adriana, the palatial retreat of Emperor Hadrian, and reviving Roman techniques of hydraulic engineering to supply water to an unequalled sequence of fountains, the cardinal created an elaborate fantasy garden whose mixture of architectural elements and water features had an enormous influence on European landscape design for the next two centuries.
Sir Alfred East was an English painter and etcher who was born in Kettering in Northamptonshire and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His romantic landscapes show the influence of the Barbizon school. He wrote a manual on The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour in 1906. In April 1888 East shared an exhibition at the galleries of the Fine Art Society with T.C. Gotch and W. Ayerst Ingram, and was commissioned the following year by Marcus Huish, Managing Director of the Society, to spend six months in Japan to paint the landscape and the people of the country. When the exhibition of 104 paintings from this tour was held at the Fine Art Society in 1890 it was a spectacular success. He was awarded a Knighthood in 1910 by King Edward VII.
This etching of the Pincio Gardens in Rome, to the west of the Villa Borghese, affords a distant view of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo to the left of the obelisk built by emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D. The gardens of the Pincio were designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier at the command of Napoleon, whose younger sister Pauline Bonaparte had married Prince Camillo Borghese in 1803. This public park is filled with over 200 statues of famous Italians, and is still a popular area in Rome for leisure activity.
The Irish-born Robert Charles Goff was a Colonel in the Coldstream Guards before he retired in 1878 to pursue a second career as an artist. He was elected to the prestigious Royal Engravers, and published an illustrated travel book entitled Florence and Some Tuscan Towns in 1905. Goff lived in Sussex, Florence, and in Switzerland.
In addition to winning a Pulitzer Prize for literature and being the first woman to do so, Edith Wharton was a celebrated tastemaker of her day. Her first book, The Decoration of Houses (1897), handled the subjects of architectural style and interior decorating; Italian Villas and Their Gardens (1904) examines the relationship of architecture to the surrounding landscape and advises on the design of formal gardens. Wharton not only preached precepts of garden and house design, but she also practiced them herself. On the grounds of The Mount, her home in Lenox, Massachusetts, she gradually realized a variety of landscape designs illustrating principles championed in Italian Villas and Their Gardens.
Years of European travel and life abroad inform Wharton’s writing, both fiction and non-fiction. As Sarah Bird Wright points out, the “cultural capital” Wharton gained was a “constant resource.” Her Italian travel essays between 1894 and 1904 record her enthusiasm for Italian art and cultural history and were the source material for the 1905 collection of travel sketches Italian Backgrounds and the 1902 novel The Valley of Decision.
This first edition of Italian Villas and Their Gardens is illustrated with watercolors by noted illustrator Maxfield Parrish. Parrish used luminous colors to create dreamlike landscapes with a classical influence, seen in many children’s books such as The Arabian Nights and Eugene Fields’s Poems of Childhood. Parrish also received commissions from many magazines such as Hearst’s, Collier’s and Life; he also created many advertisements before focusing on painting starting in the 1920s.
The Castello Brown overlooks the Portofino harbor, on a site used for defense of the area since the days of the Romans. The castello recorded in this lithograph is shown as it was rebuilt in 1557, very much the same as it appears today. The two large pine trees, still standing, were planted in the castello’s walled garden in 1870 by Montague Yeats Brown, English Consul in Genoa and the owner of the property of that time. One tree honors his wife and the other commemorates their wedding day.
While self-taught artist Susan Willard Flint is usually known for her genre scenes depicting daily life and amusements of the Depression era, some of her work reflects scenes from her travels abroad. She exhibited at the Salons of America in 1934 and 1936.