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Core Record

Title Town Scene in Italy with Ancient Ruins
Alternative Title The Obelisk of Caracalla
Collection Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle
Artist Attributed to Codazzi, Viviano (Italian painter, ca. 1604-1670)
Date Earliest possibly about 1647
Date Latest probably about 1670
Description The ruins represented in this painting do not seem to correspond to any known Roman monument. Viviano Codazzi often gathered fragments of architecture and sculptural details to compose imaginary townscapes, or vedute ideate. The palette of dark browns and greys and the dramatic effects of perspective are also characteristic of Codazzi's style. His grandiose architecture is the setting for lively street scenes. Some beggars rest at the feet of an obelisk dedicated to the emperor Caracalla, while a woman feeds chicken nearby. The figures were usually added by other painters, such as Domenico Gargiulo.
Current Accession Number B.M.9
Subject townscape (capriccio); figure
Measurements 104 x 124.5 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by the founders John and Joséphine Bowes 1885.
Provenance Purchased by John and Joséphine Bowes, through Benjamin Gogué, Paris, from the collection of the late Conde de Quinto, 1866, 100 francs.
Principal Exhibitions Arts Council, 1959 - 1960, cat. no. 42; Vision of Rome, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1969, cat. no. 301.
Publications Mayer, A. L., 'Die Gemäldesammlung des Bowes Museum zu Barnard Castle', Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, vol. 23, 1912; Gaya Nuño, J. 1956; Soria, M., 'Notes on the Spanish Paintings in the Bowes Museum', The Connoisseur, vol. 148, no. 595, 1961, pp. 30-37; Marshall, D. R., Viviano and Niccolò Codazzi and the Baroque Architectural Fantasy, Rome 1993, cat. no. VC 36, pp. 125-26.

D. R. Marshall suggested the obelisk could be that of the Circus of Maxentius on the Via Appia, known as the Circus of Caracalla in the seventeenth century, which Codazzi would have copied from prints by Etienne Dupérac.

Marshall dated this painting to the mid-1640s and he considered likely the collaboration of members of Codazzi's workshop, such as Ascanio Luciano. According to this author, the figures were added by Domenico Gargiulo. This picture could have been painted after Codazzi's return to Rome from Naples in 1647.

In correspondence (1962), Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez, of the Instituto Diego Velázquez, CSIC, rejected the previous attribution to Francisco Collantes made by E. Waterhouse. He thought the painting was close in style to the work of Domenico Gargiulo or Ascanio Luciano.

Rights Owner The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Author Dr Mercedes Cerón



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