The exhibition Tivoli: Variations on an eighteenth-century landscape takes a fresh look at the evolution of landscapes in art in the period 1720-1830 by focusing on one subject in particular: the Roman town of Tivoli and its famous ‘Temple of the Sibyl’. The show features over fifty paintings, drawings and engravings, as well as an original cork model from the period, largely drawn from French public and private collections.
Over the course of the eighteenth century, Tivoli and its iconic temple gradually came to be one of the most commonly-depicted subjects in the history of painting, and particularly French painting. The architectural perfection of the monument, the sublime, awe-inspiring surroundings and the wealth of historical and legendary associations combined to make Tivoli a subject adored by painters and collectors alike. This period also saw reproductions of Tivoli’s famed temple constructed in gardens across Europe.
This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to compare the different approaches adopted by some of the greatest artists of the age: a brief introduction traces the origins of the Tivoli motif in French art to the success of seventeenth-century works by Paul Bril and Gaspard Dughet, while the eighteenth century is represented by Vanvitelli, Boucher, Vernet, Hubert Robert, Piranese and more. Finally, French artists such as Valenciennes, Simon Denis or Granet represent later innovations in landscape painting.
From dramatic compositions to more spontaneous evocations, poetic variations to academic studies, the works featured in this exhibition reflect the proliferation of styles and approaches which coexist within the discipline of landscape painting. Perhaps the most intriguing revelation is that a single subject could exert such a fascination for such a long period of time, attracting the attentions of artists of all stripes, from traditionalists to innovators.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-colour catalogue published by Paris Musées. As well as a detailed description of all of the works on show, this catalogue will include various essays on the subject of the Tivoli site, its place in art history and contemporary travel writing, and the careers of certain artists who have come to be closely associated with the town and its emblematic temple (Joseph Vernet, Hubert Robert).
Curator: José de Los Llanos, Director of the Musée Cognacq-Jay