Ippolito Caffi ( Belluno 1809 – Lissa 1866 ), Rome, view of Piazza del Popolo
Watercolor and pencil on paper cm 20,5 x 29,5.
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The views of Piazza del Popolo in Caffi usually have a central point of view, which underlines the artist’s intention to highlight the specularity of the two churches. In this case an eccentric vision is adopted with respect to the axis of the square, thus conferring greater evidence to the obelisk that stands in the middle of the composition. The Flaminio obelisk is, after the Lateran one, the oldest and the tallest in Rome: with its twenty-five meters of monolith granite it was brought from Eliopoli to Rome by Augustus and was placed in the Circus Maximus. Moved here in 1589 by Domenico Fontana by order of Sixtus V, in the early nineteenth century was added by the Valadier a base with four circular tanks decorated with Egyptian lions, very evident in the watercolor presented here.
The two churches, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, are no longer obvious protagonists of the whole, but close the proscenium as a great theatrical backdrop, perfectly aligned with the Torlonia buildings built by Valadier between 1818 and 1824. Painterly, the watercolor has a soft and extremely soft light, in harmony with the liquidity of the technique adopted: in the delicate apparent monochrome of the whole that suggests a morning light, the spot of the green outcrops of the Pincio emerges to the extreme right.
The one presented here is considered a second version of the watercolor with a similar subject, published (No. 58) in the catalog, edited by Annalisa Scarpa, of the exhibition “Caffi. Luci del Meditteraneo “, set up in 2005 in the double seat of Belluno (Palazzo Crepadona) and Rome (Palazzo Braschi). A feature that does not diminish the value of this proof of the talent of the great Venetian view painter: in fact, an element that can not be overlooked in the views of Piazza del Popolo of Caffi, in the various specimens we know, is the extraordinary participation of the artist in depict this place. As Scarpa pointed out, there is no single version of this subject identical to the other: it is as if the artist “felt” this space in a particular way.