The "Mount of Justice" in Rome 1849 by Thomas Dessoulavy
The "Mount of Justice" in Rome 1849 by Thomas Dessoulavy
A fine oil painting on canvas depicting the so-called "Mount of Justice" inside Villa Montalto Peretti that was once located in the area between today's Termini Station, Saint Mary Major and Saint Lawrence Gate. On the left the monumental statue of Rome, in the background the church of Saint Cross in Jerusalem and behind the Tiburtini mountains.
Signed lower right T. Dessoulavy 1849.
Ebonized frame from the second half of 19th century.
Size 28.5 x 23.5 cm the canvas - 50 x 43.5 cm with frame.
Excellent condition commensurate with age. Original canvas, restored in the lower center with a patch on the back.
Thomas Dessoulavy (London 1801 - Rome 28/10/1869) Thomas Dessoulavy was born in London in 1801, very young he moved to Rome where he initially stayed with the famous Swiss watercolorist Franz Kaiserman. In 1824 it is mentioned among the "landscape painters" in the List drawn up by the Swiss sculptor Heinrich Keller. In his views he portrays not only landscapes from Lazio but also from the areas of Campania, in fact he had stayed in Naples since the late 1920s. Dessoulavy, who spoke Italian correctly and for this reason was often requested as a guide for British visitors, at the beginning of the 1930s he was one of the most successful painters of the British artistic circle in Rome: in 1839 he took part for the first time in the annual exhibition of the Society of Amateurs and Cultors of Fine Arts of Rome, in 1846 instead, sends to the Royal Academy of London a View of the Palace of the Caesars, the following year it exhibits a Landscape in the same place, while in 1848 it presents the painting Porta San Giovanni in Rome. Despite the frequent trips to England mainly for work purposes that occurred mainly between the mid-forties and the fifties, Rome remains the chosen place as a permanent residence until 1869, the year of his death. The style of Dessoulavy fits into that vein of Italian landscape painting that had reworked the Venetian masters with markedly picturesque tones. Through brushstrokes spread out with small touches, the artist minutely reproduces the foliage, the grass and the figures placed in the foreground; a greater stylization of the shapes characterizes the elements in the background instead. Great attention is also paid to topographical transposition, an element that characterizes the entire pictorial corpus of the artist.
The Montalto-Peretti Villa: When he was still a cardinal, Felice Peretti had a beautiful villa built, by extension the largest that Rome has ever known, by architect Domenico Fontana. The villa overlooked the Baths of Diocletian and stood right in the area of Saint Mary Major Bosilica on the Esquiline Hill. In the area, where the Termini station is currently located, there was this sixteenth-century Renaissance villa, the largest built inside the Aurelian walls and one of the most sumptuous. The villa of cardinal Felice Peretti, who later became pope with the name of Sixtus V, had an impressive extension that was already well documented by 17th-century cartographers whose plans allow us to set the boundaries between the current Via Marsala, via del Viminale / via De Nicola, via Depretis / via Liberiana / via Carlo Alberto. The villa contained two residences, the Palazzo Sistino or "di Termini" (of the Baths) and the casino, called Palazzetto Montalto and Felice. It was a charming place, admired by foreign travelers who came to do Grand Tour in Italy. Before its complete disappearance, the villa changed owners several times: after the extinction of the main branch of the Montalto Peretti it passed to the Savelli (from 1655 to 1685), then to the Negroni (from 1685 to 1784), following Giuseppe Staderini ( from 1785 to 1796) and finally to the Massimo. And by the will of the Jesuit father Massimiliano Massimo, the Massimo palace was built in the area occupied by the villa between 1883 and 1887, by the architect Camillo Pistrucci. "The other end of the same avenue terminates uphill to the highest point of Rome above the Agger (embankment) of Servius Tullio, where Sixtus V. intended to build a third building, as his architect Fontana tells us in the book of works done from him for that Pontiff, where dealing with this Villa he says on page 37 .: They are continually manufactured (in addition to compartments) of many habitations, houses, palaces, and lodges for convenience and adornment of the place, and at present on a hill almost in the middle of the said Vigna, which is the highest place, which is inside the City of Rome, a beautiful palace is designed, from which the whole City will be discovered, and the countryside around it. But this project having not been put into execution for the death of the Pope, there remained only the memory of the predilection, which he had for that place, seeing there still today a stone seat, called the Canape of Sixtus V ., because he rested there to contemplate the magnificent view of the whole Villa, and of the Countryside around Rome with its crown of mountains, which from that point is enjoyed. Remaining empty after his death, the summit of that mountain, where he had decided to build the said palace, and where it was thought, as can be seen from Bufalini's map of Rome, that the famous tower of Maecenas once stood, Cardinal Alessandro Montalto, the great-grandson of Sixtus, had a round vegetable square formed there, with a diameter of a hundred palms, to which he ascended seven steps, surrounded by boxwood espaliers, and by tall cypresses, in the center of which the highest point of Rome, he placed in perspective of the avenue and of the Peretti palace, on a tall pedestal, a colossal statue of Rome itself sitting, which Flaminio Vacca tells us in his interesting memories to have been found at Monte Cavallo under the ground, near the place where Sixtus V. placed the two gigantic horses, ahead of the Papal Palace. This statue, which, as far as I know, was previously unpublished, and is represented in the annexed Plate VI. is dressed in scaled armor with the head of Medusa in her chest, and a helmet on her head; sitting on a chair adorned with trophies, and military emblems, with her right hand raised she was to hold a spear, and with her left hand the globe surmounted by a victory, but these two emblems, failing to do so, caused the vulgar to take it for a figure of Justice which the mountain was named. Its total height from the top of the helmet to the ground is 30. palms, including the tall palms pedestal 14. with its basements and cornices, the nut of which has six palms broad for each side, and five of high door carved in relief on the front in front of the arms of Card. Alessandro Montalto , who erected so beautiful a monument, one of the few that remained in this Villa, after it was stripped of all its statues and ornaments by its ancient owners. It rises on the top of the mountain in the middle of a circle of 21 trees of pines and cypresses." Taken from: Notizie Istoriche della Villa Massimo ai Bagni di Diocleziano, Vittorio Massimo, 1836 Rome.
The Aggere is an embankment, a defensive embankment obtained by amassing some ground in support of a wall or a fortification. The area inside the agger, high and well supplied with water, became over the centuries fully agricultural; in the lands below it was possible to identify, as early as the 16th century, the site of the Horti Maecenatis and in particular the tower from where Nero contemplated the burning of Rome in 64 AD If the location of the tower - and its very existence - are highly uncertain , it is certain, on the other hand, that the 73 meters of the Servian wall and its embankment (overlaid over the centuries by the ruins of buildings and ancient aqueducts) were considered the highest place in Rome, and therefore called "mountain". In 1576 the "Cardinal Montalto" (as the future Sixtus V Peretti was called from his country of birth) had bought by his sister Camilla Peretti (who was always his real estate agent and kept the ownership of these lands and the villa until his death). in 1605) a Guglielmini vineyard between the Esquiline and the Viminal Hills. The extension of the property was doubled with subsequent purchases in 1581 (which cost cardinal Montalto the check for poor cardinals taken from him by an indignant, and rich by family, Gregorio XIII), and purchases continued even after the election. to the pontificate, until the vineyard of Pope Sisto, with its 65 hectares between the Baths of Diocletian and the St Lawrence gate, became the largest intramural agricultural property in Rome. Furthermore, taking advantage of the fact that the construction of the monastery of the Carthusians and their basilica in the Baths of Diocletian gave rise to great demolitions, Pope Sisto continued the work, "opening a large square in front of [the Baths] and pulling a long and large road to Porta S Lorenzo To demolish this square, many remains of the Baths were demolished, which in addition to cluttering it threatened ruin, or that were represented to Sixtus V as such by those who directed the work carried out under his pontificate, and which [...] they finished destroying them and used all those materials and debris to fill and level the road that goes from the Subura to the Viminal gate of the Villa Massimo, the Via de 'Strozzi, the Macao road, several internal avenues of the same Villa [Peretti], and other places, as can be seen from the accounts of the expenditure made on this occasion, which are kept in the secret Vatican Archive ". From the embankment, from time to time, buildings, walls, inscriptions and cippi relating to the aqueducts and various antiquities had emerged, of which we rarely bothered to remember until the pontifical decision to move the Rome railway station from the Trastevere - where it had initially been built - to the upper town, it did not suggest the demolition of the whole aggere and all that was under it. Of those works, although conducted "at the Garibaldina", and with increasing urgency after the capture of Rome, traces remain in contemporary relationships, where the discovery of environments relevant to second-century buildings behind the walls is given an account. Completed the demolition of the agger, everything that had not been leveled (or monumentalized as the short stretch of Servian walls still visible), was re-buried under the square of the Termini Station. After a few decades, however, having to expand the railway station and build the metro station in Piazza dei Cinquecento in 1947-49, the excavations of the Adrianean quarter were reopened and other materials were found and removed, while the walls were definitively demolished. The rooms of the domus with saved private balneum are partially reconstructed at Palazzo Massimo, in the exhibition section "Imperial Complex of Rome Termini".