Born in the Netherlands, Swanevelt travelled to Rome in the early 1630s to join a group of artists who had established a new, lyrical style of landscape painting. The study of Rome's dilapidated classical ruins was essential to these artists, and Swanevelt here includes two men sketching in the bottom-right foreground, one of which could perhaps be the artist himself. Swanevelt's carefully observed drawings of the arch and its carvings allowed him to paint this work years later when he was living in Paris.


  • Title: The Arch of Constantine, Rome
  • Date: 1645
  • Physical Dimensions: w1162 x h895 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: A version in the Philipson coll. (see photograph in London, Courtauld Institute, Witt photo library).Write to Anne Charlotte Steland about her work on Swanevelt.
  • Work Nationality: Dutch
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: Signed and dated on masonry, lower left:H SWANEVELT.F./ PARIS.1645.
  • Further Information: The ruins of Ancient Rome had been a popular subject for artists travelling to Italy since the sixteenth century. Swanevelt visited Rome in 1629 and stayed there until 1641 when he moved to Paris. This work, executed while in France, is likely to have been painted from sketches, and demonstrates his dedication to this country, years after living there. The Arch of Constantine is depicted from the north-east, seen against the Palatine Hill as it is bathed in the sunlight of the rising sun. Swanevelt has captured great amounts of detail in the Arch's sculptural reliefs as well as the figures, dwarfed by the architecture as they stroll and sketch within it.
  • Artist: van Swanevelt, Herman
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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