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Creator:
William Pars, 1742–1782, British
Title:

Temple of Venus and Rome from the Colosseum

Former Title(s):

Ansicht des Tempels der Venus und Rome

Temple of Venus In Rome from the Colosseum

Additional Title(s):

Temple of Venus , Rome

Date:
1781
Medium:
Watercolor with pen and brown and black ink over graphite on medium, moderately textured, blued white laid paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 12 1/16 x 16 3/8 inches (30.6 x 41.6 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

watermarked "D & C Blauw" (listed in 'Watermarks in Paper', by W. A. Churchill, chapter 'Vryheyt' page 54, #82)

Inscribed in brown ink, lower right: "Coliseo Rome 178[1]"; inscribed on verso in graphite, upper left: "1. 233 | 250"; inscribed on verso in blue chalk, upper left: "1813" inscribed on verso in graphite, lower right: " [Cana] a [...];

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1975.4.1571
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | buildings | campanile | church | cityscape | fences | Grand Tour | grass | hats | men | ruins | sheep | temple | trees | wall
Associated Places:
Colosseum | Italy | Lazio | Roma | Rome | Santa Francesca Romana | Temple of Venus and Roma
Access:
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:13024
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In 1775 the Society of Dilettanti, a group of aristocrats devoted to the promotion of classical culture, paid for William Pars to study in Rome. There he joined a group of young British watercolor artists that also included Francis Towne, John “Warwick” Smith, and John Robert Cozens. This Roman watercolor presents a view from the Colosseum toward the famous double temple of Venus and Rome on the upper Via Sacra with the campanile of the church of San Francesca Romana behind. The minute numbers inscribed on certain buildings suggest that Pars may have intended to engrave the subject with a letterpress key, though no engraving ever appeared. Pars died in Rome, allegedly from pleurisy brought on by standing too long in water while sketching at Tivoli.

Gallery label for Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17)
This crisp watercolor is inscribed with the date 1781 and represents the famous double temple of Venus and Rome on the upper Via Sacra with the campanile of the church of San Francesca Romana behind. Originally built to Emperor Hadrian's own design, the temple was probably completed under Antoninus Pius in the early A.D. 140s. Despite scholarly interest in Hadrian's work, the coffered apse Pars has depicted on the temple's Venus side was not, in fact, the emperor's work at all, but rebuilding after a fire in A.D. 307. the reigning emperor Maxentius then remodeled the interior, adding the surviving back-to-back semicircular apses. The minute numbers Pars inscribed on various buildings must have related to a written key to help the artist recall the subjects he was painting or even to provide for letterpress, should he have chosen to engrave his watercolor. The building numbered four, for instance, is the Arch of Titus, the top of which can only be glimpsed surrounded by later structures. There is a sense that Pars struggled to make this motley collection of buildings -- some ancient, some medieval, some modern -- fall into a coherent landscape. His desire to maintain topographical accuracy was a constraint that threatened to swamp Par's work with excessive detail, reducing the scene to a form of visual catalogue. In this example, he eventually fell back on the device of a framing arch to the right, this one taken from the lower arcade of the nearby Colosseum. But the arch appears to have been a belated audition to give order to a somewhat graceless view. The inclusion of two foreground figures, one of whom points to the remains, reassures us that this prospect is indeed worthy of our consideration.

Matthew Hargraves

Hargraves, Matthew, and Scott Wilcox. Great British Watercolors: from the Paul Mellon collection. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2008, p. 34, no. 11

Presences of Nature - British Landscape 1780-1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-10 - 1983-02) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (The State Hermitage Museum, 2007-10-23 - 2008-01-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007-07-11 - 2007-09-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Edward Lear and the Art of Travel (Yale Center for British Art, 2000-09-20 - 2001-01-14) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Classic Ground - British Artists and the Landscape of Italy, 1740-1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 1981-07-29 - 1981-09-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

British Painting and the European Continent (Haus der Kunst Munich, 1979-11-20 - 1980-01-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Pursuit of Happiness - A View of Life in Georgian England (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-09-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Drawings and Watercolors from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (Yale University Art Gallery, 1965-04-15 - 1965-06-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

A loan exhibition of English drawings and watercolours from the collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon of Upperville, Virginia, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, 1964, cat. no. 16, N5247.M385 L62 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Duncan Bull, Classic ground, British artists and the landscape of Italy, 1740-1830 , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1981, p. 51, no. 70, pl. VIII, ND1354.4 B85 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Gage, Zwei Jahrhunderte englische Malerei, britische Kunst und Europa 1680 bis 1880 : [Ausstellung] Haus der Kunst Mèunchen, 21. November 1979 bis 27. Januar 1980: [Katalog] , Ausstellungsleitung Haus der Kunst Mèunchen, Mèunchen, 1979, pp. 198, 200, no. 98, fig. 98, ND466 Z85 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Louis Hawes, Presences of Nature : British Landscape, 1780-1830, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1982, p. 148, no. III.13, fig. 124, ND1354.4 H38 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon. , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, v. 1: intro. p. 7, p. 204, no. 407, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

J. H. Plumb, The pursuit of happiness : a view of life in Georgian England : an exhibition selected from the Paul Mellon collection, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, p. 37, no. 33, N6766 Y34 1977 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Graham Reynolds, Scene and Sensibility, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, issue no. 4178, April 29, 1983, p. 438, Film S748 (SML) Also available OnLine in TLS Historical Archive (ORBIS) [ORBIS]

Scott Wilcox, Edward Lear and the art of travel, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2000, pp. 26, 132, no. 149, NJ18 L455 W55 2000 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale University Art Gallery, English drawings and watercolors, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, April 15 - June 20, 1965 , New Haven, 1965, cat. no. 16, NC228 Y34 (YCBA) [YCBA]


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