Storia dell’arte n. 157 – Nuova Serie | 2022
Numero dedicato a “Guercino nel Casino Ludovisi 1621 – 1623” a cura di Daniele Benati, Barbara Ghelfi, Raffaella Morselli
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Domenichino e Giovan Battista Viola paesaggisti prediletti del cardinal Ludovico: novità su disegni e pitture per Villa Ludovisi
During the brief pontificate of Gregory XV (1621-1623), his cardinal nephew Ludovico commissioned a large number of landscape paintings to the best artists active in Rome at the time. These works were intended for the decoration of the numerous buildings owned by the Ludovisi family, both inside and outside Rome. From the archivial documents and ancient sources we learn that the prelate’s favourite landscape artists were two Bolognese: Domenichino and Giovanni Battista Viola. For Cardinal Ludovico they produced two of the four famous frescoes in the ‘Stanza dei Paesi’ in the Casino Ludovisi (1621) and a number of easel paintings, only some of which have been traced today.
New evidences, including two previously unpublished drawings on the front and back of the same sheet, attributable to Domenichino and Viola respectively, now increases our knowledge of the work of the two artists during the Ludovisi pontificate and bears witness to their close friendship and professional relationship in those years.
The drawing on the front, apparently the first sketch for the fresco of the Casino at the Pincio, is paired with Viola’s on the back: a preparatory drawing for a landscape painting described in the Ludovisi inventories, now recognisable with a painting in the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, here attributed to the Bolognese painter.