Monday, February 2, 2009

Views and Garden Plans of Roman Villas

Villa Medici, Rome

Villa Ludosi, Rome

The Italian Renaissance inspired a revolution in gardening and the resurgence of the villa-estate. During the antiquity, and again in the Renaissance, the idea of a house built away from the city in a natural setting captured the imagination of wealthy patrons and architects. Renaissance gardens were full of scenes from ancient mythology and other learned allusions. Water during this time was especially symbolic, as it was associated with fertility and the abundance of nature, and many gardens developed to include water features such as fountains and grottos.

By the late sixteenth-century Italian gardens, with their monumental terraces, sculptures, and waterworks such as those at Villa d'Este (Como) and Villa Lante (Viterbo), were much admired throughout Northern Europe, and imitated by the French. In the course of the 17th century, the interest for the art of gardens was witnessed by the intense activity of architects, such as Annibale Lippi at Villa Medici (Rome), where they interpreted a refined culture with strong theatrical suggestions. The Baroque or formal garden has a controlled geometric layout, created using mathematical rules and symmetry, and is designed with plants and trees trimmed in an exact fashion.

Displaying artistic talent at a young age, Giovanni Battista Falda studied under the noted Italian painter, Francisco Ferrari. At 14, he was employed by a Rome publishing house under Giacomo de Rossi for his skilled abilities in architectural illustration. Seventeenth-century printmakers responded to the interest in classical art and architecture, as well as contemporary topography, by creating elaborate series on all the splendors of Rome. Such works, eagerly collected by gentlemen-virtuosi throughout Europe, stimulated what became known as the “Grand Tour,” the European pilgrimage to Italy to study the art and architecture of the antiquities.

During his years with Rossi, Falda completed several monumental architectural publications, including The Nuovo Teatro (1665-1669), The Gardens of Rome (1670), and The Fountains of Rome (1675). In Gardens of Rome, Falda recorded in detail the expansive Italian estates near Rome, which continue to be admired as an aesthetic ideal. Falda exhibits both a strong architectural foundation and the delicate beauty of a landscape painting, paying close attention to even the smallest details. Through incorporating every-day scenes and characters, Falda guides his viewers through the lifetime of each structure, from its architectural conception, to its role in the urban world. His work expertly juxtaposes geometry and aestheticism, paving the way for the 18th century Italian movement of architectural engraving, including the work of Vasi, Rossini and Piranesi.

Please visit or call Arader Galleries for more information. We currently have a nice selection of Falda views available for purchase.

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