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Abraham Louis Rodolphe Ducros, 1748–1810

Ruins of the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum

Additional Title(s):

View in the Roman Forum (The Temple of Peace)

Ruins on the Forum Romanum with a view of the Colosseum

Watercolor with pen and black ink over graphite on laid paper
Sheet: 20 7/8 x 29 1/8 inches (53 x 74 cm)

Inscribed in watercolor, lower right: "DuCros 1779"

Signed and dated in watercolor, lower right: "DuCros 1779"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
arches | architectural subject | architecture | Grand Tour | horse (animal) | landscape | men | ruins
Associated Places:
Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine | Colosseum | Italy | Roman Forum | Rome
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IIIF Manifest:

The Swiss painter Louis Ducros traveled to Rome in 1776 and remained in Italy until 1807. there he became known for his large, elaborately worked watercolors of Italian scenes, frequently featuring ancient ruins, which were much sought after by British visitors to Italy. One of the most important of his British patrons was the antiquary Richard Colt Hoare, who wrote in 1787 that four drawings that Ducros had done for him "will be the admiration of the whole town & put all our English artists, even the great Mr. Smith [John 'Warwick' Smith] to the blush." In 1822 Colt Hoare, who eventually owned thirteen watercolors by Ducros, credited the artist with a key role in the development of watercolor painting in Britain:
The advancement from drawing to
painting in water-colours did not
take place til after the introduction
into England of hte drawings of
Louis du Cros, a Swiss artist who
settled at Rome. His works proved
the force as well as the consequence
that could be given to the unsubs-
tantial body of water-colours, and
to him I attribute the first knowledge
and power if watercolours. Hence
have sprung a numerous succession
of Artists in this line.
Colt Hoare's partiality toward Ducros led him to overestimate the Swiss artists influence on British watercolorists; there is no evidence that the achievements in watercolor by "Warwick" Smith (cat. 74), John Robert Cozens (cats. 103-4 and 142), and other British artists working in Italy were based on a knowledge of Ducros' work. Colt Hoare was, however, an important early patron of J.M.W. Turner (cat. 144), and it is very probably that Turner's large dramatic landscape watercolors of the early years of the nineteenth century reflect his awareness of the Ducros watercolors he would have seen in Colts Hoare's collection.

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 123 cat. no. 102

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [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]

Duncan Bull, Classic ground : British artists and the landscape of Italy, 1740-1830, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1981, pp. 5, 11, 48-9, no. 62, ND1354.4 B85 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Pierre Chessex, Images of the grand tour : Louis Ducros, 1748-1810, Éditions du Tricorne, Geneva, 1985, pp. 48-9, no. 5, NJ18 .D8573 + Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 123, no. 102, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Andrew Wilton, The life and work of J.M.W. Turner, Academy Editions, London, 1979, p. 47, pl. 30, NJ18 T85 +W577 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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