A Fantastical Ideal Landscape with Ruins
(Francesco Chiarottini)


Originally attributed to Panini, then to Locatelli and subsequently to Minozzi this landscape was correctly recognised to originate in the Veneto and was ascribed to the circle of Marco Ricci. Recently Laura Laureati[1] has ingeniously compared the composition to A Classical Landscape with a ferry boat near a ruined temple (see Fig. 1)[2] suggesting that both works were by Francesco Chiarottini. Making allowances for the fact that both these works are oils, and not frescoes, the proposal is convincing. Both paintings share the same type of Venetian figures deriving ultimately from a knowledge of Carlevaris prototypes, the same treatment of the columns, an interest in water and boatmen, elaborate scenographic temples and ruins, similar Locatelli-like vegetation, and an illusionistic fascination with perspective leading the eye to infinity where carefully detailed, almost monochromatic buildings in a Carlevaris-Ricciesque manner close off the horizon.

During his travels to central Italy and Rome Chiarottini came into contact with Bibiena and the works of Roman artists such as Panini and Locatelli and absorbed this knowledge into his own intrinsically Tiepolesque tradition. Similar figures and elaborated architectural detailing may be seen in the fresco works in Palazzo Brosadola and Villa Moro, Cividale[3] where the artist again took pleasure in representing obelisk forms, Bibiennesque and Piranesian fantastical colonnaded ‘Roman’ ruins and far reaching perspectives which are tempered by a form of Canovian classicism. These Roman influences are married, in a most individualistic way, to the artist’s Tiepolesque upbringing, but perhaps also show a study of Visentini’s engravings and may be even a knowledge of the latter artist’s decorations for Palazzo Contarini Bisacco (1740). Thus Chiarottini’s style combines a fundamentally Rococo Venetian heritage and effectively updates this into an individualistic proto-Neo-classical style, the counterpart, in a more elaborate mode, to the taste for Hubert Robert in late eighteenth century France.


[1] Oral opinion.

[2] 25 ¾ x 34 ¼ in. Sotheby’s 11 Nov. 1959, lot 49 (from the collection of Prof. Thomas Bodkin).

[3] Cf. R. Pallucchini, La Pittura nel Veneto: il Settecento, Milan, 1996, II, figs. 682, 686.

59 3/8 x 50 3/8 in. 151 x 128 cm
Oil on canvas

Matthiesen Gallery, ‘The Settecento’, 1999

Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Italian - Venetian
1987-The Settecento: Italian Rococo and Early Neoclassical Paintings,1700-1800.
An exhibition held on behalf of Aids Crisis Trust (UK) and The American Foundation for Aids Research (USA). Introduction by Charles McCorquordale. Essays by Francis Russell, Edgar Peters Bowron, and Catherine Whistler. 200 pages, 31 colour plates, 88 black and white illustrations. £15 or $23 inc. p.& p.

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