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Creator:
John Robert Cozens, 1752–1797, British
Title:

The Lake of Albano and Castle Gandolfo

Date:
ca. 1779
Medium:
Watercolor and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Dimensions:
17 1/2 x 25 1/8 inches (44.5 x 63.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1977.14.4635
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
castle | cattle | dusk | Grand Tour | hills | lake | landscape | sheep | shepherds | trees
Associated Places:
Albano, Lago | Campagna | Castel Gandolfo | Italy | Lazio
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:9188
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Eighteenth-century popes used Castel Gandolfo as an occasional retreat from Rome, mainly in the spring and autumn. Cozens’s view of Lake Albano is taken from the Galleria di Sopra and captures the landscape at dusk, the papal villa silhouetted dramatically against the twilit sky. To the left, a solitary goatherd drives his flock home along the Galleria before darkness falls. To British Grand Tourists, this view evoked the very beginnings of Rome, in that Castel Gandolfo was believed to occupy the site of Alba Longa, the birthplace of Romulus and Remus (Northall, 1766, p. 378). When Thomas Jones visited in 1776 and walked from Castel Gandolfo to Lake Nemi nearby, he admired the landscape in eulogistic terms:

“This walk considered with respect to its classick locality, the Awful marks of the most tremendous Convulsions of nature in the remotest Ages, the antient and modern Specimens of Art, and the various extensive & delightful prospects it commands is, to the Scholar, naturalist, Antiquarian and Artist, without doubt, the most pleasing and interesting in the Whole World” (Jones, “Memoirs”, p. 55).

That this region held such an array of cultural associations explains the exceptional popularity of the design; there are at least eleven surviving versions of this watercolor from Cozens’s hand, each one slightly different in atmosphere and mood. In this example the mood is pastoral and the inclusion of the goatherd evokes the landscapes of Claude or the poetry of Virgil’s Eclogues. At the same time his archaic presence hints at what Protestant Englanders saw as the unenlightened and backward state of modern papal Rome. Surveying the decayed and uncultivated state of the Roman suburbs, compared to supposed English prosperity, William Beckford concluded they proved “how completely the papal government contrives to make its subjects miserable” (Beckford, “Dreams”, p. 190).

Matthew Hargraves

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 271, no. 61, pl. 61



John Robert Cozens returned from his first visit to Italy in the spring of 1779. Three year later made a second Italian tour, this time in the company of his father's pupil, patron, and friend William Beckford. Back in London in 1783, Cozens created finished watercolors for Beckford and other collectors based on sketches from his recent tour but also returning to the more striking and popular of his drawings for the earlier Italian visit. As did many other landscape painters ad draftsmen of the period (one thinks of Richard Wilson with his many repetitions of his paintings of Italy), Cozens produced numerous versions of his more popular compositions. The Lake of Albano and Castel Gandolfo was certainly one of the most popular, known in at least ten variants. The differences in tone and handling of the two versions in the Yale Center for British Art suggest that these watercolors date from different periods in the artist's life and stylistic evolution. Andrew Wilton has suggested that the darker, richer, more densely worked version (cat. 103) can be associated with Cozen's first visit to Italy, while the lighter, freer handling of cat. 104 reflects the artist's manner of working in the years following his second Italian trip. In both versions the Alban hills are given full weight and solidity by Cozen's technique of building form through the massing of delicate touches of subdued color. While Cozens's technical achievement was considerable and influential, it was also at the service of a sensibility that the great Romantic landscape painter John Constable described as "all poetry." The sense of light and atmosphere, as well as mystery and melancholy, that Cozens created in watercolors such as there se him apart from other contemporaries working in Italy, such as William Pars (cat. 100) or John "Warwick" Smith (cat. 74), and provided an important model for a younger generation of watercolorist, which included Thomas Girtin (cat. 143) and J.M.W. Turner (cat. 144).

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. 125 cat. no. 104

Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (National Museum Wales, 2014-07-05 - 2014-10-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-03-06 - 2014-06-01) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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]

Works of Splendor and Imagination - The Exhibition Watercolor 1770-1870 (Yale Center for British Art, 1981-09-16 - 1981-11-22) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Art of Alexander and John Robert Cozens (Yale Center for British Art, 1980-09-17 - 1980-11-16) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 271, no. 61, pl. 61, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Bindman, The History of British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2008, pp.12-13 (v. 2), fig. 143, N6761 +H57 2008 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Mapping a National Style, topography & landscape at the Yale Center for British Art , Apollo, v. 165, no. 542, April, 2007, p. 58, fig. 8, N1 A54 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Northall, Travels through Italy, Containing new and curious observations on that country; particularly the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; the ecclesiastical state , S. Hooper, London, 1766, p. 378, Available online in Orbis [ORBIS]

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 2, no. 61, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA) [YCBA]

Martin Postle, Richard Wilson and the transformation of European landscape painting, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 309, Cat. No. 133, NJ18.W72 R53 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Maria Delores Sanchez-Jauregul, The English prize, the capture of the Westmorland, an episode of the grand tour , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2012, pp. 122, 123, fig. 78, N9135 .E54 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

The idea of Italy : photography and the British imagination, 1840-1900, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, p. 24, pl. 1, TR57 .I33 2022+ (YCBA) [YCBA]


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