View of the Salt Pans near Ostia
(Andrea Locatelli)


This painting by Andrea Locatelli, signed AL, probably illustrates an identifiable place near Rome, an area near the salt pans with nearby deposits of this mineral. As is typical in the works of this artist, though, the scene is described in a somewhat generalized manner. There were two working salt pans near Rome in antiquity: those of Ostia, and the others, not far away on the Portuense, or Campo Saline near Ponte Galera. As Luisa Chimenti and Fernando Bilancia have written, the latter were the actual reason for the conquest of the Etruscans by the Romans.

Like those near Ostia these mines for a long time supplied salt to the citizenry and were the origin of the Port established as a center for its extraction. The ownership of the Campo Saline rested with a variety of proprietors. One part belonged to the Canons of Saint Peter’s, and the remainder were owned by several Roman families who, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, included the Mattei and the Del Cinque.

In 1833 most of Ponte Galera, formerly Campo Saline, was acquired by the Genoese Pallavicini family. Since this painting came originally from the collections of the Rospigliosi family, which from the end of the seventeenth century was closely allied with the Pallavicini, it is not improbable that the painting entered their collection in the nineteenth century when the latter acquired this property. Locatelli rarely placed the subjects of his paintings in topographical settings but some examples are known, notably the View of the Ponte Nomentano, the View of Santa Agnese and Santa Costanza, the Castle of Rivoli, the Ponte Rotto, the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Piazza Navona.

This Marine Landscape retains many obvious topographical features rare in Locatelli’s oeuvre which, for the most part, are fantasy classical landscapes. In the foreground we observe a few shepherds with animals grazing and, in the center, the salt mine with fishermen intent on their task. On the land there is a small warehouse used to store salt deposits. In front of this, a few figures are loading mules and horses with goods. This painting represents one of the finest examples of Locatelli’s view paintings, much rarer than his idealized landscapes.

35 x 54 inches. 89 x 137 cm.
Oil on Canvas

Matthiesen Gallery, London, Fifty Paintings.’

Where is It?
Acquired from the Matthiesen Gallery by a Private Collector
Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Italian - Roman
1996-Paintings 1600 - 1912.
26 colour plates, 144 pp. £12 or $20 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
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