The Tiber at Castel Sant’Angelo, Seen from the South

Gaspard van Wittel1700/1715

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione Cariplo
Milan, Italy

This painting was formerly was attributed to Antonio Joli, Gaspard van Wittel was the name associated with the reproduction in the volume subsequently published on the Cariplo Collection in 1998. References to the Dutch school, and in particular the milieu of Gaspard van Wittel or Jacob de Heusch, were suggested in the relevant entry in the catalogue of the older section of the collection, where Rovetta noted marked similarites with “Vanvitellian Realism”. Comparison with the large series of views that the artist painted of Rome, the city that became his adopted home, does indeed provide further evidence in support of this attribution. The abundant documentation of sketches and notes used by the artist to execute his paintings in the studio does not actually include this particular view, in which the painter, with Saint Peter’s behind him, shows us Castel Sant’Angelo in a smokey haze, the bridge with its white statues, and on the opposite bank, contrasting with the empty spaces of the fortification, a haphazard cluster of houses in the area of Via Giulia and the church of San Giovanni ai Fiorentini. Masterfully handled in terms of perspective and descriptive precision, it is precisely the latter detail, more than any other element, that points to Vanvitelli, the Italianised version of his name, as the author of the work. The foreground is occupied by the genre scenes favoured by the artist and his century, with fishermen, a mill and children swimming. With respect to the artist’s early work (see for example the similar view of Castel Sant’Angelo from the south sold through the Richard Green Gallery, London) the composition is more open with little effort to fill up the space with landscape elements or genre scenes. Convincing points of reference are offered by the artist’s views of the Tiber Island (c. 1700, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie) as regards the handling of light and the definition of the cluster of buildings, and the Tiber at San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (1715, Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet). Further evidence is provided by the heads of the figures swimming in the river, which appear in identical form in various paintings by the artist.


  • Title: The Tiber at Castel Sant’Angelo, Seen from the South
  • Creator: Gaspard van Wittel
  • Date: 1700/1715
  • Physical Dimensions: w91 x h36 cm (Without frame)
  • Exhibition: Palazzo Melzi d'Eril, via Manin, 23, Milano
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1991
  • Type: Painting, oil on canvas
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it

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