The Wallace Collection

Gaspard Dughet: Ideal Landscape with the Falls of Tivoli, c. 1661-63
Treasure of the Month - February 2012

Gaspard Dughet: Ideal Landscape with the Falls of Tivoli, c. 1661-63

This painting presents a carefully constructed view of the Italian landscape. The town Tivoli in the background, towers over the waterfalls it has always been famous for. Because of its natural beauty, its importance in antiquity and its Roman remains, Tivoli has been a major attraction for tourists and artists alike and has for centuries influenced the way the Campagna around Rome and classical landscape was perceived. Dughet used the specific topography of Tivoli as a starting point to construct a landscape of subtle equilibrium. Foreground and middle ground carefully frame the view of the town; the painting is divided into clear horiztontal zones. Because the green colour hardly changes in the distance, the landscape builds up close to the picture plane which gives it an almost architectural quality.

Gaspard Dughet (1615-1675) painted this landscape in Rome when the city was the international European centre for painting, a place where artists from different countries met. Dughet himself, was the son of a French cook and his Italian wife, his sister married the famous French emigre painter Nicolas Poussin. Because of this association, Dughet was widely known as Gaspard Poussin. He was closely integrated in the Italian and French communities.

For the painting in the Wallace Collection a pendant is documented in 1744 when oth works were engraved. The two paintings were seperated in 1763. The Ideal Landscape with the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli is now in the collection of the Duke of Westminster. It is likely but not certain that the artists intended both works as a pair. Their style, dimensions and the position of the horizon match closely, a strong indication that they were conceived to be shown together. The subject of both paintings supports this idea: While the landscape in the Wallace Collection shows Tivoli as a contemporary town, its pendant stresses the Roman past and highlights its most famous monument, the Temple of Vesta. A later painting by Dughet at Chatsworth combines the view of Tivoli on the Wallace Collection's painting with the Temple of Vesta shown in a prominent position in the foreground.

In the eighteenth century, Gaspard Dughet became particularly popular with British collectors. Between its appearance at sales in 1763 and 1777, the price of the Ideal Landscape with the Falls of Tivoli had doubled. His works became an influential model for British landscape painters - and for landscape gardens.

Gallery Talks:

Monday 6 and Thursday 16 February at 1pm with Dr Christoph Vogtherr.

Further Reading:

Marie-Nicole Boisclair: Gaspard Dughet 1615-1675, Paris 1986, p.238, no. 207, fig 252.

John Ingamells: The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Pictures III: French before 1815, London 1989, p. 144-147.