Nascita e sviluppo del paesaggio classico, Domenichino e gli altri. Nuove ricerche.


Domenichino, Albani and Viola

The pictures Domenichino painted before and during the stay with the Agucchi brothers seem to have been independent easel paintings, done to show his application and inventiveness with small figures in action.  The Doria Flight into Egypt  is a signal example of his early mastery of the new idiom of landscape with small figures, but at the same time the decorative context in which it was placed meant that it would not have had the prominence it has enjoyed in modern times – as the work of Annibale. It was the ‘viva efficacia di esprimere gli affetti che fu sua propria, destando i moti e movendo i sensi’, as Bellori put it (1672, p. 290), and this  speciality would in the biographer’s words be extremely sought after ‘per essere hoggi in grandissima stima’. His early landscapes had an immediate following among some of the other Bolognese painters who had come down to Rome, and the genre began to compete with the landscapes of the Northern artists like Bruegel and Brill, and Baglione writes of the goldsmith Bartolomeo Loto who made works of this kind in his workshop – they must have been quite precious editions of the new landscape form.  But the main development of the Carraccesque landscape was in fact decorative, and we know of a number of interiors – and exteriors – where the new style was fashionable, from patrons like Odoardo Farnese, Pietro Aldobrandini, Scipione Borghese, Alessandro Peretti Montalto, Vincenzo Giustiniani, Cardinale Pio.  The scale varied greatly, some of the individual paintings were quite large, and there were others painted outside ‘a fondo di viali’  to increase the illusion of rus in urbe. The trouble with it is that its popularity outstripped its survival, for most of the schemes were dismantled by the next generation, and individual canvases taken abroad without any record of who did what. These schemes, starting with the chapel of Palazzo Aldobrandini al Corso, were undertaken by the Carracci school and successors, and the composite nature of their working practice meant that individual hands were not credited with separate work and it was almost impossible to say who did which part. Sometimes there was a deliberate counterpoint between Northern painters and the new Bolognese tendency.. There are several personalities involved here apart from Domenichino, from Albani to Antonio Carracci, Badalocchio to Antonio Solari, but one in particular is of striking importance, because he became a long-term collaborator with Domenichino and is responsible for some of the achievements usually attributed to him.  An important  work of 1607 with figures introduced by Albani, done for Alessandro Peretti Montalto, opposite a contrasting Port Scene by Paul Brill, enables us to see the true character of his style and how it became a major component in the new Carraccesque landscape.

 Giovanni Battista Viola is better known as a result of Richard Spear’s study in 1980, his essay in the 1996/97 Domenichino exhibition catalogue at Palazzo Venezia, and the recent (2002) essay by Belinda Granata,[1] and a range of work is now recognised as his. But it is still not possible to acknowledge his collaborative contribution, his work alongside others and most especially for and with Domenichino, with whom he seems to have had a continuing relationship throughout his stay in Rome, and his mate Francesco Albani. Sometimes  it would appear that they jointly created a new kind of landscape;  Domenichino was actually continuing a process that is more readily acknowledged in the Carracci business in Bologna, where it is often very difficult to identify the separate hands. Like Caravaggio and the genre of still life with which he is associated, Domenichino did not aim to be remembered as the originator of a new kind of ‘classical’ landscape, because this was a genre that did not fulfil the ideals of figure painting that were evidently much more highly regarded. But more than other Seicento  partnerships the two created a kind of landscape that had a great following, particularly among collectors of the next generation. With the increased demand for his handiwork Domenichino was evidently more than willing to take advantage of a dependable assistant, and although this means that some of the paintings have a hybrid character, we should credit both the direction he gave and the distinctive character his assistant brought to the Bolognese landscape in Rome. It does also explain Viola’a chameleon-like character, because he was evidently quite dependent on the direction he received, and readily passed from an Italian style to one that was coloured by his contact with Flemish artists like Paul Brill. There was an active appreciation of their different styles: patrons like Federico Borromeo, Michele Peretti and Francesco Maria del Monte had had a lot of contact with Northern art, but at the same time appreciated the more naturalistic Italian landscape that the Bolognese brought. In the Palazzetto Farnese Brill contributed four moonlight landscapes to the Camerino with the Allegory of Night (? by Domenichino and Viola, Chantilly, Musée Condé), and later he did the Four Seasons to accompany Guido Reni’s fresco Aurora in the Casino Rospigliosi (c. 1614). But it was a sense of grand scale and distance that Viola contributed to the landscape setting for several different artists, and it is this that was perhaps his greatest achievement, something that would be of importance for the new landscape tradition. His imperfect grasp of perspective made paradoxically for successful collaborations, particularly with Domenichino, who at the start of his Roman stay was attempting to introduce narrative subjects on a small scale in his paesi con figure piccole, which Viola expanded to the larger scale of the decorative demands placed on the Carracci team The accolade ‘Domenichino with Viola’ should be a mark of this very successful partnership. It should be clear that the collaboration produced products of much higher quality, while even the numerous repetitions of designs painted obviously independently by Viola never reached the high standard of their joint efforts. On a stylistic level, it is clear however that his skills for painting figures was limited: Grimaldi reported that as he did not possess the ability in this field he limited his invention to trees, foliage and distances, leaving these open spaces for others to fill with their inventions (Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, 1841 ed.,  p. 90). So when there are figures in these landscapes that differ from those we know are characteristic of Viola, we can assume that they were introduced by others. We should be looking at the landscape elements as being the common thread in Viola’s career.

          Viola came to Rome with Albani, in 1601[2], and already practising his speciality, which he had stumbled upon almost by accident, for painting was not his intended profession.. This means  (as with Domenichino) we do have to look at the background of the Carracci Accademia degli Incamminati, and therefore Agostino Carracci, as being formative influences- Annibale had left Bologna in 1595[3]Domenichino was five years younger, and he too was mainly formed in those years and yet Viola’s training experience, such as it was, must have been shorter, for his lack of technique both in terms of perspective and  so far as figures were concerned was always a limiting factor in his art;  it was his natural talent for the elements of landscape that lent itself to the speciality for which he became known. We know that both Domenichino and Viola already painted landscapes when they arrived in Rome, and the patronage of the Aldobrandini, probably through the Agucchi brothers, meant that by January 1603 both had supplied them with examples, Viola’s being of decorative hunting pictures, Domenichino’s already more ambitious with a history subject. They were close if for no other reason that Domenichino stayed with Albani for the first two years of his stay in Rome (according to Bellori) and Viola was a fellow-traveller with Albani for eighteen years. It is perfectly possible, thanks to Richard Spear’s analysis, to seek out Viola’s personality as an independent artist in a variety of  decorative  paintings, often in pairs like the two in Budapest, the Uffizi versions of the Giustiniani canvases, the pair in the Bowes Museum, and the pair in the National Gallery – the Landscape with a Boating Party derived from the Mahon landscape now in Bologna, and its companion Landscape with a Hunting Party  of which the original  is also by Domenichino now also in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna. He also apparently did a set of large versions, 10 palmi wide  (approximately 230 cm)  of the four frescoes in the Villa[4], so he must have continued painting almost to the end (he died 4 August 1622), despite the often repeated story of his being too indolent after his being named guardaroba to the Ludovisi household. These versions of known Bolognese landscapes, and there are several instances of such repetitions in Viola’s oeuvre, are characteristic of his independent activity; neither the figures nor the perspective live up to those of the originals. But this  kind of work does not do justice to his collaborative side, whether with Domenichino, Albani or others, that seems to have brought out his true talent.

Viola has many of the same ingredients: tall trees to frame his view, buildings in the background, often a whole town with spires and towers, crossed trunks and different species of trees, including palms, a cliff to one side with trees growing on the edge against the sky, a winding path with figures walking away from the viewer, a pair of figures on one side, a horse and groom walking into the landscape, flocks of sheep and a shepherd (often out of scale), a weir or waterfall to one side, and always that principle that Brill was said to recommend,

‘Yet one general rule I had from my old friend Paulo Brilli, which he said will make a Landscape Caminare, that is move or walk away, and that is by placing Darke against Light, and light against Darke. His meaning is best understood by Circumlocution, viz., that what part of your Lanscape is light, the near adjacent ground to be proportionately darke, or shadowed, and that again seconded with light, and then shady again until you come to nearest ground, where all ends with strong and dark shadows, to set off all the rest”[5]

As we shall see, the landscape is the stage often for others’ figures, and they could be painted by colleagues like Albani and Domenichino, or borrowed from other sources, like Antonio Tempesta, who seems to have been the source of the group in Viola’s Landscape with a Tabernacle. The little Landscape with a Shrine  in the Galleria Doria, for instance, which spawned at least a couple of early copies (also as by Domenichino) has many of Viola’s idiosyncratic features: the rather typical clouds, usually cumulus with horizontal nimbo stratus ending in a curved lift, the waterfalls, and the trees and foliage, as well as the chunky horseman and his mount, a flock of sheep rather too small in the scale of the picture  It seems as though Viola here borrowed the figures from an engraving by Antonio Tempesta, who was one of the most prolific landscapists of this generation. But he must have been close to Domenichino when he did this picture.  On his own Viola’s figures are quite modest, like those also present in the well-documented fresco in the Stanza dei Paesi at the Villa Ludovisi, executed in 1621 towards the end of Viola’s activity.

                Whether or not he and Domenichino were in Rome while Agostino Carracci was still there (he left in the middle of 1600) the format of the new landscape that they both followed was based on the compositional designs that he had worked out, mainly in drawings, in the Accademia degli Incamminati. The few landscapes that Agostino did in Rome,  including the Landscape with  Diana and Callisto  (Duke of Sutherland collection, Mertoun) and the Landscape with the Sacrifice of Abraham in the Louvre, were of great significance, as Viola found himself collaborating with his friend Albani in completing the companion pictures – The Toilet of Diana  (Bologna, Pinacoteca) and the Death of Absalom in the Louvre, where the figures seem again to come from Tempesta. While Albani was also a landscapist, particularly early on in his Roman years, the trees and foliage in these are identical in handling to those of  other established Viola originals, like the ex-Giustiniani  Flight into Egypt, which also has  the same flying Cupids.  It may well be that there was some preparatory material that Agostino himself had started in relation to the figures for the Toilet of Venus, which relate to those of the Sleeping Venus at Chantilly, or those of Agostino’s 1599 engraving of Omnia vincit Amor. These cupids are not far from the one being more intimate with Venus in one of the Lascivie prints; but it is equally clear that their execution is by a different hand from the original pendant,  Diana and Callisto. It is clear from a stylistic point of view that the landscape detail of the Toilet of Diana is that of Viola, he uses the same foliage and the same skies in many other pictures. The flying angels are equally typical, we find them in the Mount Stuart Flight into Egypt and they are a give away, although ultimately they are the same as Agostino invented in the two main frescoes he did in the Farnese Gallery. The painting that Agostino had done, probably for Odoardo Farnese, of the Vision of St. Eustace ( Naples, Capodimonte) was the inspiration for Viola’s own painting of the same subject now in the Louvre, a work done alongside Brill, who painted the companion, St John the Baptist in the Wilderness, in one of the first juxtapositions of their styles. Mancini, writing around 1620, had seen many landscapes by Viola in Rome, but not much was left there a generation later because they were all bought ‘a gran prezzo’ by the oltramontani.  The paintings were evidently collected because they represented the best of the Bolognese landscape, and in this process the names of Annibale and Domenichino were the only ones to survive. So it is a paradox that the majority of the landscapes that have been recognised as Viola’s are those where he was working independently, even though there is a lot of evidence that his collaborations were the most successful side of his work. Grimaldi too was a (more distant) follower of Agostino, for he sought out the drawings that remained in the Carracci studio in Rome when he arrived there in c. 1626; he was also aware of the career and activity of Viola and was able to admire  the broad landscapes he had seen by him in Paris when he went there in 1649. The siti immensi and aperti campi that Viola invented were actually the best part of the collaboration with Domenichino. Some of them came from the most important interiors of the Carraccesque landscape in Rome, which were in the Camerini of Palazzetto Farnese, and their origin there doubtless lent them authority as the products of Annibale himself.

Domenichino’s figure style

It is stylistically useful to trace the development of Domenichino’s figure style, especially in the early years, when the strenuous musculature of works like the Aldobrandini Vision of St Jerome (recorded by Girolamo Agucchi in the 1603 inventory of the Cardinal’s collection, and now in the National Gallery, No. 85), to the undressing characters that recur in the Zurich Landscape with St John Baptising, the same subject in the painting formerly in the Cook Collection and now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge[6] the stockish boatmen in the Rondinini Landscape in the Mahon Boating Scene now in Bologna, in the ex-Orléans Fishing landscape, the hunter unleashing his dog in the companion Hunting  scene, the kneeling figure of Narcissus in the Farnese fresco, the group of figures in the Latona turning the Lycian peasants into Frogs (Private collection, London), to their successors in the frescos of the apse of S. Andrea della Valle.  The Fitzwilliam Museum Landscape with St John Baptising in the Jordan has unnecessarily been involved in a debate about authorship, with Spear proposing it as an example of Viola’s hand because of its sharing the dimensions of the series of pictures in the Giustiniani collection in the 1638 inventory. Two of the series have been identified, and were exhibited in the 1996/97 Domenichino retrospective at Palazzo Venezia in 1996/97; one with the Flight into Egyot now in the Mount Stuart Trust in the Isle of Bute, the other with the Preaching of St John the Baptist belonging to Richard Feigen in New York. In reality the smaller versions of two of these compositions by Viola in the Galleria Palatina, Florence[7] show how different his hand is, but also link the original to the time when the Giustiniani series was produced, which is most likely around 1610 when Viola was at Bassano. It means that the Fitzwilliam painting was certainly painted in the first decade of the century. But increasingly for Domenichino it is the figures that matter, and indeed there is variety in the landscape background that often shows collaboration. When Domenichino did a landscape (at Villa Ludovisi, in competition with three other painters) he used a a compositional formula that was not really different from those of his first paintings in Rome. In general, Domenichino had been concentrating more and more on the challenges posed by larger figural compositions, and was happy for landscapes background and foliage to be done by an expert specialist, who was from the same stable.

Paintings on the walls of the Palazzetto Farnese

The suite of rooms in the Palazzetto, in the descriptions we have of them, obviously included works from the Carracci that had been painted earlier: we know the building work was begun in 1602, but Agostino’s Amon nano, Pietro motto and Arrigo peloso (probably painted soon after Agostino arrived in Rome in 1597/98) was there, and there are some indications that the Chantilly Sleeping Venus that was the most significant single picture in the Palazzetto, had been  started well before Agostino left Rome in 1600, although Agucchi saw it close to completion in 1602. The pair of paintings Landscape with the Toilet of Diana  and the Landscape with Diana and Callisto which have been referred to above, have not so far  been connected with Palazzo Farnese, but the former is described in the 1662 inventory of pictures sent from Palazzo Farnese to Parma, and it seems right to associate them with this space. ‘Un quadro in tela con un paese con una fontana un amorino un carretto una Venere con tre donne attorno che li acconciano la testa, Scola degli Carracci segnato n. 270’. Stylistic characteristics make it clear that Viola did the landscape background of this painting, while the main figures are equally obviously by Francesco Albani, his constant companion during these years. The companion Landscape with Diana and Callisto (Duke of Sutherland, Mertoun), must have been completed by Agostino shortly before he left Rome. Other works evidently from the Camerini that had clearly been finished earlier include Agostino’s Rape of Europa  (now on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh) and his Diana and Actaeon (Brussels, Musee des Beaux-Arts), so there was enough surviving of his work at Palazzo Farnese to provide subject-matter for the panels that were eventually done on the walls of the Galleria, not to mention the drawings that stayed in the studio.  But the paintings had been transferred to these rooms on the other side of the Via Giulia from other locations in Palazzo Farnese itself.

Decorations in the Palazzetto Farnese done by the Carracci school

Viola  must have worked, with the other associates of Annibale at Palazzo Farnese, in the room where there were  nineteen landscapes set in the ceiling around the figure of Apollo in the middle. Unlike Domenichino’s frescoes of Narcissus, Venus and Adonis, and Apollo and Hyacinth in the loggia on the ground floor, these were canvases with a framed surround, inserted in panelling in a room on the first floor, and they will have included the River Landscape in Berlin (done by Domenichino)  and the Landscape with Bathers in Rhode Island. (Viola)  and a Landscape with Latona and the Peasants turned into Frogs, (Viola and Domenichino).  In both of these Viola shows his easy handling of the new landscape idiom, with hillsides with his signature feature of a winding distant paths and small figures that are in effect part of the setting: the foliage is extremely well painted, and the drawing for the Latona  (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) shows a hand that is mindful of Agostino’s graphic style. The ensemble was in any case the most obvious landscape decoration from the Bolognese in Rome, done perhaps around 1605/06, but largely went missing after 1662 when the paintings were transferred to Parma. This was the most important source of Carraccesque landscapes for the following generation, both from the point of view of how this new naturalism was perceived – and in contrast to the curious detail of the Flemish painters – and also as the origin of many of the actual canvases that found their way on to the market over the next half-century. In another room there were canvases of Night, and Day, and it looks as though the figure of Night, (Chantilly, Musée Condé) with two sleeping children in her arms, is by Domenichino, while the landscape background seems to be by Viola.

Enough remains of the description of the room on the first floor of the Palazzetto Farnese where the Carracci school painted a whole ceiling with landscapes, probably in the years 1605/06,  to give an idea of what the decoration looked like, and the titles of some of them in the 1662 list of paintings sent from Palazzo Farnese to Parma correspond with those subjects of the pictures we know from the descriptions in that list, alternating scenes of  river landscapes and hunting scenes.  Apart from a Landscape with Narcissus (presumably repeating Domenichino’s fresco in the ground-floor loggia), these subjects were close to those of the Mahon River Landscape  (by Domenichino) and the companion Landcape with Hunters,  both now in Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale and the Landscape with a Musical Party in the Louvre that had a spectacular history as a work of Annibale in France in the seventeenth century, but which is fairly obviously the work of Viola, with figures perhaps by Badalocchio[8]. Most of the Palazzetto landscapes  had subjects from the countryside,  like the ‘Little figure on horseback with a dog pissing, a Campagna with water, two hunters one loading the other firing an arquebus, a Landscape with a big tree with water and fishermen, a Landscape with three cows and a calf suckling and a hut, a Landscape with a hill and two figures playing cards. Unlike the loggia on the ground floor where Domenichino painted his frescoes in 1604/05, this room on the first floor had a flat ceiling where canvases were introduced into a wooden surround, doubtless punctuated with gilt surrounds, perhaps looking forward to decorations like that completed by Grimaldi in Palazzo Fiano Almagià, where he also used the composition of one of Domenichino’s paintings, the River Landscape  now in Berlin. The figures in this work are of precisely the same kind as those of the landscape Domenichino painted in the Villa Ludovisi fresco he did in 1621, and the design is that of his orchestrated use of framing trees around a watery prospect, as in  a variety of drawings, or indeed the early Rondinini landscape. Although this has, like so many paintings from the world of the Carracci, strayed into the Annibale catalogue, its subject is, as I have argued in the past, among the works from the Roman Farnese collection sent to Parma in 1662, and it is also of the same proportion as two other landscapes, the Landscape with Bathers in Rhode Island, and the Landscape with Latona and the Lycian Peasants turned into Frogs (Private collection, London).  And although there is no documentary evidence to support this hypothesis (apart from the Farnese description of the Berlin picture in 1662), it seems to me likely that the two large landscapes that were once in the Orleans collection at the Palais Royal, a Landscape with a Boating Party, and a Landscape with Hunters, originally also formed part of this interior. It is the family likeness that suggests their common origin, across the several hands of their execution. Domenichino’s ability to place his figures in a scaled recession, still without a narrative subject, in the large Landscape with a Boating Party, and in the Berlin River Landscape, is also accompanied in both by the same variety of trees and foliage, and a familiar use of a river to provide a measured recession.

 In the background of the Landscape with Hunters, however, we see many characteristics of Viola’s style, not only the fantastical castle in the distance, but also the wandering path, often leading to an unreal cliff, that is a frequent feature that is a give-away for his hand. By contrast, the water landscape of its companion is much stronger, and relates closely to other situations where Domenichino uses this element to create perspective distances that are more convincing.  It does seem as though it is legitimate to see this kind of collaboration, and indeed Viola is a vital ingredient in the Carracci environment in Rome, a presence that was clearly amplified and improved the closer he was to his colleagues who had more training.. The collaborative nature of the production is illustrated by the presence of the same sort of figures at the centre of the Latona landscape,  deriving ultimately from what may be an Annibale drawing (which Domenichino also used for the figure of Charity in the oval on the wall of the Galleria Farnese, and again in the ceiling of the Sala di Diana at Bassano Romano. This is the moment of the similarly scaled figures of the frescos of Narcissus and Apollo and Hyacinth painted for the ground floor of the Palazzetto, and it is a style  also matched by those the fisherman standing in the water in the middle distance of the Landscape with a Boating Party. It seems to me useful to see the diversity of the constituent parts of this landscape idiom that would evidently have such an impact on the Roman scene.

Grimaldi’s notes on Viola for Malvasia

More recent publications have indeed identified more work by Viola, with a stylistic thread that is unmistakable, from pictures done for Alessandro Peretti Montalto[9] opposite Brill  (probably in 1607 / 1610) to the well-documented fresco in the Casino Ludovisi, painted in 1621.  As it happens, Grimaldi was the best informant[10] for Malvasia’s biography, and he gave him a sheet of recollections in 1670. Neither the published  version of these notes, in the 1678 Felsina nor the other notes that Malvasia drew from and which were published in 1982[11], have been fully exploited. Landscape painting was after all Grimaldi’s métier, and he knew Viola’s mate Albani well, because it was the latter who taught him his landscape profession, as he attended what was still  called the Carracci school in Rome. Grimaldi confirms what Baldinucci[12] had as hearsay, that Viola, who had started out as a barber,  arrived in Rome with Albani (so in 1601/02; this information coincides with what Tiarini also told Malvasia[13] ). And that he was as it were a comrade in arms: not only did they go to the same academy in Bologna (that of Bernardino  Baldi, the Accademia degli Indifferenti, which was eased out by the Carracci around 1590) but they spent eighteen years together, culminating in their taking over their landlady (il perché presa di comune concordia a pigione una casa di una assai comoda vedova la Signora Livia [sic]  Gemelli’, (Felsina II. p.90) in Rome in 1613, with the elder Viola marrying  the  wealthy widow Silvia Gemelli and Albani, two years his junior, taking the daughter Anna. Malvasia in the Felsina Pittrice (1841, II, p. 90) acknowledges Grimaldi as his informant, and gives him the accolade that he was ‘tanto più del Viola bravo paesista[14].  But Malvasia’s published text and the notes in the Biblioteca Comunale in Bologna characterise him as one of those artists, from classical and modern times, who did their own speciality rather than being of universal capacity, starting as he did late in the profession and having a manifest talent for a part of representation. Grimaldi praises his ability at trees and foliage, and then the wide open spaces of his ‘siti immensi’  It was this gift that evidently compensated for his familiar naiveté in the field of perspective and figures. In the published text of the Felsina Malvasia  (1841, II, p 90)   ‘Non trovandosi egli dunque il primo provisto di quel talento grande, e fondamento che richiedesi all’ arte massime che in etå si avanzata volle tentare il pennello, ritirossi in un angolo di essa, ed appigliandosi a’ tronchi, e afferrando la frasca, si diede a batter solo il paese, riuscendone poi in modo, che bramarano tutti allora, ed oggi cercano i dillettanti d’introdurvi per entro la loro virtuosa curiosità; e misurando co’ guardi que’ siti immensi e diportandosi per quelle verdi amenità, godere di que’ deliziosi siti e saziare per quegli aperti campi.’ And contrary to the general perception[15] that Domenichino had little recourse to assistants, the practice of Roman workshops in the Seicento, and in that of the Carracci school in particular, was that landscape was regarded as a secondary feature that could well be entrusted to specialists in the field., just like drapery would be done by the studio of Van Dyck in the absence of the master. Painters who adopted this profession could also be involved in actual landscape design: this was certainly the case with Domenichino, who was involved with that of the Bosco delle Statue at the Villa Ludovisi, and then with Grimaldi, whose paintings were frequently part of designs that were continued beyond the open loggias he decorated, and who was a stage designer to rival Bernini.

Collaborations with Domenichino, Albani

                From Grimaldi’s account we learn of the long partnership Viola shared with his friend Albani[16], and it becomes easier to understand the specialised role that he played, collaborating with him and other masters to introduce trees and foliage to accompany their inventions. If he had worked with Domenichino (Bellori says he lived for two years with Albani) at the outset when he arrived in Rome, doing landscapes for the Aldobrandini, the link continued, for the latter was godfather to Viola’s daughter Tecla in 1614.[17] He was Albani’s assistant for the landscape background in the frescoes of the Palazzo Giustiniani at Bassano Romano, and he very probably also worked  for Domenichino there in frescoes and oil paintings. It was Viola who effectively painted the landscapes for the Stanza di Parnaso at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati where the figures were introduced by Domenichino ‘dentrovi fece l’istorie della Metamorfosi d’Ovidio il Signor Domenico Zampieri’. There was evidently a fashion to contrast the Northern landscape with the new Bolognese one – we see references to the combination in the same schemes of Viola (and his pupil/follower Pietro Paolo Bonzi) and Paul Brill. Avanzino Nucci not only did the wall frescoes in the Cappella Aldobrandini where Albani and his team did the lunettes,, with Domenichino doing the Flight into Egypt,  he also worked opposite Brill in the loggias of the Giardino secreto of Scipione Borghese’s lavish gardens of the Palazzo di Montecavallo (later Palazzo Rospigliosi). Among the paintings in the Louvre, also referred to above, is the pair of landscapes with saints, that of St Eustace  being by Viola, matched by another of St John the Baptist in the Wilderness by Brill[18]. They belonged to Cardinal Mazarin, and while the first retained its attribution to Brill, the other was called ‘Carracci’ in his 1653 inventory; while Foucault apparently supposed that it was a chance association, they were more likely part of the same original decoration, possibly from the Villa Ludovisi, whence Malvasia says the Cardinal bought landscapes by Viola ‘with others by Domenichino on behalf of the King of France’[19] presumably when the contents were dispersed in 1633. These others most likely  included the pair of Hercules and Cacus and Hercules and Acheloos now in the Louvre, and we can reflect on the likelihood that the landscape setting of these paintings could well have been done by Viola.  The origin of the Louvre painting of Erminia and the Shepherds which has always since its arrival in France been given to Domenichino may well be another collaboration between the two , and it would answer the description that Grimaldi makes of the landscapes with siti immensi that he saw by Viola in Paris. There is a stylistic consistency  between the escarpment on the left of the Louvre painting and those that Viola introduced into Albani’s frescoes at Palazzo Giustiniani at Bassano Romano. Viola ’s facility with tress and foliage expands into these broad pastures with cliffs and sloping limestone hillsides. While the figures, including the shepherdess and her flock are most obviously by Domenichino, the landscape with its great perspective view, and the escarpment to the left, are equally clearly by the same hand as at Bassano Romano. It is a point where there is a really felicitous collaboration between the two. Grimaldi speaks  of seeing many of Viola’s works in Paris, where he travelled in 1649 to answer the taste that the French court had for the new Bolognese landscape painting, and to work for Cardinal Mazarin, and it is to these Ludovisi paintings that he was referring when he praised Viola.   


Viola Brill and Albani working for Alessandro Peretti-Montalto

   Another patron who was keen on the painters from Bologna was the very cultivated Cardinal Alessandro Peretti Montalto, who spent many years (from 1592 to 1598 and 1601 to 1605) as Papal legate in the city, and had a large estate by the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. From Grimaldi’s notes given to Malvasia[20] we read:   ‘Nel Casino a mezzo il Giardino del Cardinal Montalto e Zemina [Viola] dipinse a concorrenza del Brille due paesi di simile grandezza a fresco vengono stimati essere bellissimi’ . This was the Palazzetto (or Casino)  Montalto or Felice, and it and the park survived until after 1869, when it became the site of Termini station;  as we can see from Falda’s 1675 engraving, it was quite distinct from the Palazzo di Termini, which overlooked the whole vigna. The collaboration is most likely the one referred to in the accounts, which B. Granata recently published [21], showing that both Brill and Viola were each paid 25 scudi on the 6th July 1607 for the ‘pitture …al nostro giardino a S. Maria Maggiore’ (my italics), which must be the frescos that were well-known, and which of course no longer survive. But the accounts also detail two payments of 25 scudi, again to Brill and Viola, on 2o August 1607, for ‘dui paesi da lui fatti al palazzo (my italics) di nostro Giardino di S. Maria Maggiore’[22] .And Grimaldi too refers to two oil paintings that were hanging in the Palazzo [di Termini]  ‘al medesimo Giardino nel Palazzo vi sono due Paesi grandi dipinti a olio, le figure sono del Signor Francesco Albani…’  Whether or not there were two paintings by Viola there, or if these were [23] the pair of paintings now in Palazzo Patrizi   (Fig.                          ) that have been recently published as by Domenichino and Brill[24], they must be the ones in the 1655 inventory of the Fidecomesso of Cardinal Francesco Peretti Montalto[25] which passed to his nephew, [later Cardinal] Paolo Savelli. They (or the frescos lost with the Casino) are also referred to by Baglione: ‘Nella Vigna di Alessandro Peretti Montalto tra il colle Viminale al Esquilino dipinse un paese grande molto bello con quella sua maniera a concorrenza di Paolo Brillo fiammingo’.  The two paintings are in two very contrasting styles, the Marina is a consummate demonstration of Brill’s ability to paint boats and rigging in a varied perspective.[26]  The juxtaposition with Viola’s piece makes it clear that this was intended to be a real contrast of manner,  opposing ‘la maniera pittoresca buona italiana’ with the Flemish character of Brill’s Port Scene, a tour  de force of detailed display of people, ships and  rigging, a major contribution to the marine painting tradition followed later by Filippo Napoletano and Claude. Although Viola’s perspective is a little awry, the landscape detail is extraordinarily brilliant and we can see that he was trying to make this a characteristic ‘Bolognese’ landscape, in the manner of  Agostino Carracci and Domenichino, for it contrasts with the more ‘Flemish’ character of some of his other landscapes, including others done for Cardinal Montalto.  The subject was drawn, as Gatta has shown, from a Virgilian pastoral play by Giovanni Battista Giraldo Cinzio called Egle  after the fairest of the Naiads in Virgil’s Eclogues. And Grimaldi’s recollection that the figures were introduced by Albani is a realistic attributional indication even though they have a lot of Viola’s ‘rustic’ charm, echoing those on the cliff of the Hunt of Diana  in the Byng collection.  Francesco Gatta has noted that some of these figures are taken from Agostino Carracci’s Lascivie, and while they have a certain rusticity that is appropriate to the erotic nature of the subject, they are more sophisticated than Viola’s familiar turbaned merchants (like the ones in the Budapest pair of landscapes). . It does look as though the artist was consciously delivering a ‘Bolognese’ landscape; on other occasions as with those at the Bowes Museum[27], or the other ones published by Gatta in the Patrizi [28] collection, show that by himself he was drawn to the Flemish vein as much as he was immersed in the Bolognese environment of Albani and Domenichino. The Patrizi painting is a key example, datable to 1607, of Viola’s landscape presentation, a paese dal natural rapportato that was  the setting for another painter to introduce a figure subject.

                Grimaldi recalled other paintings by him at the Villa Montalto (and the accounts published[29] by Granata describe a further six small canvases paid for in 1610):

‘vi sono altri quadri fra quali in uno ha rappresentato le feste solite farvi il primo giorno di maggio con quantità di fabacce e barche con infinito numero di figurine, la diligenza usata da Tramontani quali siano pagati a prez(z)i vigorosi ne hanno spogliato non solo Roma ma altri luoghi dove han(n)o a(v)uto notizie estranee in occasione che Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi si reto(r)nava in Parigi al servizio del Signor Cardinal Mazarino vide le sue stanze ed in molti cabinetti   (p. 374)[30]. And the paintings at the Villa Montalto were well-known, as we learn from P. de Sebastiani’s Viaggio curioso de’ Palazzi e Ville più notabili di Roma, (Roma 1683) where Viola is described (p. 59)  as a ‘pittore che intendeva molto’ obviously because he could illustrate a literary theme and not just a mere landscape subject. It is really another indication that the origin of this landscape idiom, with a classical narrative, is due to Agostino Carracci’s dominant role among these Bolognese painters in Rome, and the importance of the few remaining examples of paintings by him there. l

Other possible collaborations with Domenichino

                It could be that some other known works are collaborations between Viola and Domenichino. The Landscape with Moses and the Daughters of Jethro  at Christchurch, Oxford is a painting that has what I regard as a characteristic Viola view, a broad perspective to a picturesque farmstead and the skyline of a town, (like the one in the ex-Giustiniani Flight into Egypt) which is the edge to a broad stretch of water with sailboats. It is framed with trees and the high cliff on the left in the middle distance, a recurring feature like the one in the Villa Chigi landscape.  But the figures, which are arranged to collaborate with the perspective (and Moses is really among the running figures in the middle distance) are more self-assured than we expect from Viola, and we should not be surprised to see this joint effort, which must be quite early. Equally the :Landscape with St George and the Dragon (National Gallery, London) represents a similar collaboration, and the kind of ‘deliziosi siti’ that Grimaldi praised Viola for.. In other respects the dragon and horse are creations that remind one of the lion in the Glasgow St Jerome, and certainly more accomplished than Viola was capable of.  It is when we compare the buildings, as well as the foliage, and the clouds in the sky, that we can identify his distinctive hand, for there is not so much attention to the natural and picturesque charm of Domenichino’s views. It is too much to dismiss the figure subjects in these early landscapes as not being by the more accomplished history painter, who was ever trying to capture action and expression; and it is perhaps the same collaboration in the Prado Landscape with Bathers, where the bathers preparing to swim are characteristic of one hand as the buildings are more meticulously imagined by another.

Viola’s fame

                So the Patrizi Landscape with Satyrs and Nymphs   (Fig.                )is a key work for comprehending Viola’s role in the Bolognese landscape in Rome, and the reference is precious as it can be dated – only one earlier documented work is one of the two pictures listed as belonging to the Aldobrandini collection in January 1603[31]. Evidently Albani’s mate Viola was thought of  as a ‘pittore doratore’[32] as he never aspired to narrative painting, and was therefore more of an artisan. Even on such a level there was a basis for future partnership, for while  Domenichino and Viola did small landscapes for the Aldobrandini,  Domenichino evidently achieved more renown for his efforts in this field, extending what was an affordable category of verdura  or landscape to the sophistication of history painting. The Patrizi painting  illustrates the rich landscape detail for which Viola was evidently famous, with Domenichinesque motifs that are impressive and delightful, recalling Tiarini’s comment[33] ‘Finiva i suoi paesi (e) mai si saziava. Fece per il Conte Camillo Ranuzzi un paese in rame da starvi un mese a guardare le cose fattevi’ . It is the juxtapositions of the various features in the landscape that betrays Viola as someone who imperfectly understood the idiom, for while the prospect of water that is used by Domenichino to give an easy impression of distance, uniting the distance with the foreground, Viola’s seems always a mis-match, and the picturesque recession from the side waterfall to the bluff with a central tree, and the next cliff  in the mid-distance does not seem to retain a scaled proportion.  Even the figures seem to be out of proportion in terms of the distance from the foreground, and trip up against the silhouetted forms of banks and foliage. In this the variegation of leaves, trunks and light is what so impressed his contemporaries.  Even when Viola does versions of known compositions, like the large canvases in the National Gallery, London  (NG. 56, 63; Domenichino show, Rome 1996, p. 326f, after the River Landscape  from the Mahon collection and its companion Landscape with Hunters  in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna) there are flagrant mistakes of perspective that seem to characterise his lack of control in this area. These are characteristics and deficiencies are what that accompany Viola throughout the works we know. Because of the close links between the Bolognese followers in Rome, during the years of Annibale’s incapacity and after his death, we can however expect to see Viola’s participation in the background of numerous works given more generally to Albani and Domenichino, as well as some of the many landscapes for which he was famous that reveal a more rustic character. Occasionally a feature, like the waterfall in Domenichino’s fresco of  the Girl with a Unicorn in the Farnese Gallery itself, seems to be naif enough to be Viola’s, and we should not ignore a working practice that involves such participation. Some of the works, like the Byng Hunt of Diana or the Erminia and the Shepherds in the Louvre, should in reality continue to be thought of as by Domenichino because of his invention of the figures and overall direction, but the great talent Viola had for what Grimaldi called those ‘siti immensi’ and green fields should also  be recognised and his talent celebrated. These were the works that had been carried off at great prices by the Northerners who sought them out in all places they were to be found in Rome, and doubtless counted among them the works that Grimaldi saw in Paris, such as the paintings in the collection of Cardinal Mazarin[34]. The question of collaboration with his colleagues like Domenichino and Albani that Grimaldi also recalls,  in describing a painter who essentially was an intuitive rather than trained specialist was the main reason why his hand has been so overlooked. At the same time it is worth remembering not only the direction that the Carracci gave to interior decoration in Bologna and then Rome, but also the formal design of landscape with small figures, which was Domenichino’s enduring contribution.  And it was ironic that when Camillo Pamphilj gave the two real masterpieces of Annibale’s landscape art, La Chasse and La Pêche to Louis XIV in 1665, they fell upon deaf ears.

Collaboration with Brill, Albani and Domenichino at Bassano Romano

In 1610 Viola spent a month and a half in Bassano Romano doing the backgrounds to Albani’s frescoes in th Palazzo Giustiniani, and he evidently collaborated with Domenichino (and Brill) on some of the oil paintings there – he also did the series of four overdoors for Vincenzo Giustiniani, listed in his 1638 inventory (of which two are known). Their Carraccesque association is remembered in Lebrun’s day when they were taken with the other Giustiniani paintings to Paris, for this eminent dealer (who knew the Bolognese school well) they were by Annibale[35]. Passeri tells us that he Viola did the backgrounds of four paintings for Principe Ludovisi at Zagarolo (ed Hess p. 44/45), but only the rather unfamiliar staffage of Domenichino’s Garden of Eden has been recognised.  He worked again with Domenichino on a series of four paintings for the Colonna family ‘in uno vi è un Giacobbe che dorme di mano del Domenichino di pmi 1 1/2 incirca’ . In 1616/18 he painted the landscapes of the Stanza d’Apollo at Frascati in company with Alessandro Fortuna, and Domenichino introduced the figures. Although these have long been thought of as by Domenichino, it is clear that in this genre the landscapist had a free rein, and Viola deserves more credit than the small sum ‘come a paesista si diede’.

                I have already suggested [36] that the pair of paintings represented by the ex-Giustiniani Hunt of Diana [37]now in the Byng collection at Wrotham Park, and what I have identified as its companion of virtually the same size in the Louvre, a Carraccesque Landscape with Diana and Callisto,[38] may have been invented for the same setting in the Sala di Diana at Bassano, where Domenichino did the ceiling dedicated to the goddess. It is reasonable to  suppose that the  the Louvre painting, given to Louis XIV by Cardinal Fabrizio Spada in 1674, is also a joint production but in this case the landscape is evidently by Brill, for the evidently Flemish character of the background is accompanied by very different figures that are not explained  simply by the artist’s  own increasingly ‘Italianate’ tendency. in painting, but are very like the principal figures in the Byng picture. While that painting has one of the most impressive of Viola’s siti immensi, and the foliage and progressive escarpments are typical of his hand, it is really useful to compare the figures with those Albani painted in the Patrizi Landscape with Nymphs and Satyrs, and I now propose that this is the collaboration that we see in this commission. I now think that Spear was right to question Domenichino’s hand in the painting, although because of his direction of the frescoes in the ceiling of the room where they probably hung at Palazzo Giustiniani at Bassano, we should not exclude his leading of his landscape assistant in this most successful design.  Albani was evidently delegated to conduct  the work at Bassano as the representative of the Carracci firm, and whether Brill was there in person or if the companion landscape was at first painted without a figure subject, the figures there of Diana and Callisto and her Nymphs must be from the same hand as those of the Hunt of Diana. The character of these classical figures has to do with the  succinct imagery of an idealised classical world that derived from Agostino Carracci’s example, just as his classicism inspired the panels on the walls of the Galleria Farnese that were executed at the same period. The decoration at Bassano was the result of Vincenzo Giustiiniani’s enthusiasm for the Bolognese artists, and while Annibale was alive the origin of the inventions could still be thought of as coming from his direction, which is why these pictures continued to be associated with his name when they were snapped up by French agents. It must be that these commissions were created in the context of competing personalities, just as Viola’s Bolognese landscape fresco was set against another by Brill in the destroyed Casino Montalto. The putti volanti of the Hunt of Diana  are key features of this idiom: drawn from Agostino’s example, they are a common denominator of several of his pictures;; it is not a contradiction to point to the possibility that this element originates from Agostino Carracci’s examples, followed as closely as he could by Albani. These landscapes, together with the collaborations at Villa Ludovisi that ended up in Cardinal Mazarin’s collection, are the real manifestation of the buona maniera italiana dal natural rapportati that was still in place in Rome when Claude and Poussin arrived there.  Brill, the most successful Northern landscapist of his generation,  worked alongside the Bolognese Reni  (and Bonzi) in the Sala della Pergola of Scipione Borghese’s Villa di Montecavallo and then in the Sala dell’ Aurora (finished in 1614), and became increasingly drawn to the Bolognese idiom.  As noted above, we are missing the large landscapes that Viola and Brill painted in fresco in the Casino at the Villa Montalto, and those Viola did in the gardens of the Villa that Cardinal Lanfranco Margotti had  (from 1608/11 onwards) between the Via del Colosseo and the Via del Tempio della Pace, which were up to five meters high’ (Grimaldi in Malvasia, Scritti originali ,1982  p. 373)’, and they were obviously illusionistic panels at the end of avenues.  But a meeting of the various styles of landscape is to be found in the frescoes of the Sala dei Paesi in the Villa Ludovisi, where Guercino, Domenichino, Viola and Brill each did a landscape, and we see the naturalistic Bolognese style gaining ground even in Brill’s contribution.

Viola’s graphic style

                The paintings that we can associate with Viola do have a few connected drawings, which give a valuable foundation for understanding his graphic style. The Landscape with Bathers  (Rhode Island)  is related to the drawing in the Louvre (Inv.  ****) with a very similar castle in the distance, and a winding path leading up it. Loosely Carraccesque, it is among those traditionally attributed to Annibale, so it is valuable to have this association. For the painting of Latona  there is a more distinctive study (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) which, like the painting itself, shows this draughtsman’s ability with trees and foliage; the figures do relate closely with those in the painting, but as these must have been done (in the painting) by another hand, we understand Viola’s clumsiness with these in the drawing. For the Louvre Landscape with a Musical Party the drawing (Louvre Inv. 7461, Loisel 752) is not so close, but we begin to be able to recognise characteristics in common, with the same weaknesses in perspective and ragged figures that we encounter in the paintings.

There has been some confusion in the consideration of Viola’s work, because there is a contradiction between the fame he obviously enjoyed, and the relatively modest quality of the work attributed to him alone, with little variation in achievement from one end of his career to the other.  So some of the works traditionally given to Domenichino and others have been re-attributed to his hand. In reality he was a continuous presence in the lives and work of both Albani and Domenichino in Rome right from his arrival in 1601 to his death in 1622. Because he was untrained and had a gift as Grimaldi put it, si diede a batter solo il paese, he was gauche even when he repeated figures from compositions that he copied, as he frequently did.  It was collaboration with his Bolognese companions that brought out the best of his work, and he was widely appreciated for the complementary background that he invented for their figure subjects, for he was quite obsessive ‘mai si saziava’ in the detail of his landscape.  The earliest known painting by him, the so called Cagna caccia in the Doria, which was painted in 1602 as it is in the Aldobrandini inventory of January 1603, must be a collaboration as the figures of hunters in a boat are superior to the staffage figures he introduces to people his own landscapes. The characteristic that the more ambitious scope of his collaborations brought out was the sense of scale, for despite nearly always misjudging it along with his perspective, the stage he set for others’ ‘classical’ figures gave their compositions breadth and space in a way that was influential on the next generation.

In conclusion, it ought to be noted that Domenichino’s efforts in landscape painting, when he tried to satisfy the needs of his demanding patrons the Agucchi brothers shortly after his arrival in Rome, were intended to respond to the challenge of history painting, with a landscape setting because that was a speciality he had shown talent for early on.   The experience that G B Agucchi had in obtaining paintings that reflected his imaginative personal interpretation [39] of subjects like that of Erminia among the Shepherds meant some progress in Domenichino’s career ladder, for the patron was surely better able to explain in person what he wanted rather than by written word with the distant Ludovico. The Louvre painting, done for the Ludovisi, would indeed have been a real fulfilment of his request, but before that the Doria Flight into Egypt was a real expression of his ‘classical’ landscape. Domenichino was also appreciated at this period by the Farnese, probably as a result of Annibale’s encouragement,  for he contributed frescoes (with landscape settings) for the Palazzetto Farnese. We should not disregard the artist’s obsessive personality, by means of  which he developed a formal  landscape practice, a working vocabulary of forms that revolved around figures but included  a compendium of devices drawn from the setting in a new ‘Roman’ countryside. It was evidently this science that Poussin studied when he arrived in Rome, one of the major beneficiaries of the knowledge and practical preparation that Domenichino had developed, from the impulse he had found in Bologna under Agostino. But he also started painting more significant figure subjects, and this was an achievement that put what he would have felt was his modest achievement in the field of landscape  –  a decorative genre if ever there was one – in the shade. The Carracci workshop, which still had Annibale as its nominal head, even though for the last five or even six years of his life he hardly could put brush to canvas, was already a collective and we have little chance of identifying all of the hands in its productions, names like Bartolomeo Loto, Giovanni Antonio Solari, Sisto Badalocchio, and Giovanni Paolo Bonconti. Not only Agostino’s son Antonio, the real figure of continuity in the Annibale studio in Rome, followed the example of his late father, but also Guido Reni, who also did Carraccesque landscape paintings and drawings. Domenichino, and Albani (and maybe others) made considerable use of the specialist Viola who could satisfactorily complete landscape settings, but was not up to the level of figure painting except as staffage.  It is this aspect of the original invention that meant that Grimaldi could see a great number of works by Viola when he visited Paris, when there the Bolognese landscape idiom was billed as the creation of Annibale Carracci, followed by Domenichino, with very little credit being attributed to the handiwork itself. But we should not continue to follow the lead of those commercial agents in the Seicento who were only too happy to invent and perpetuate the idea of Annibale’s conversion to  a classicism that was completely at odds with his intuitive genius, because of the works of his followers that were to hand when he was so obviously in such acute physical decline.  And it is worth considering not only how contemporaries viewed what were two different approaches to landscape, the Bolognese and the Northern, and also how the designer could make a real difference to the new classical landscape even when much of it was undertaken by a trusted specialist. It is still a paradox that in some of Domenichino’s best works, like the Erminia and the Shepherds in the Louvre,  and the pair of landscapes with  Hercules and Acheloos  and  Hercules and Cacus  that certainly belonged to Viola’s employers, the Ludovisi, the backgrounds may well have been materially executed by Domenichino’s assistant, which is why the escarpments and trees have such an affinity with those we know Viola painted at Bassano  Romano for Marchese Giustiniani.  Things would change, even as in the Sala dei Paesi at the garden pavilion of the Ludovisi the work of four renowned landscapists would be compared each for their own virtues. But the creative vein that led to such panoramas as Claude’s Sermon on the Mount  (Frick collection, New York) was the inspiration from not just a single artist, but a more collective effort from the Bolognese in Rome, pitched against the invasion of Brill, Brueghel, Elsheimer, Poelemburg, Breenbergh the Van Nieulandts and other Northerners.  It was known as the Bolognese landscape, of which the main representative even in Domenichino’s lifetime was Grimaldi, and he as we shall see touched base with Domenichino as the latter returned to his own roots in the 1630s.

© Clovis Whitfield 2017

[1] On Viola, see especially R. E. Spear  ‘ A Forgotten Landscape Painter,: Giovanni Battista Viola’, in Burlington Magazine, CXXII, 1980, p. 218-313, essentially reprinted in his volume of collected studies From Caravaggio to Artemisia, Essays on Painting in Seventeenth Century  Italy and France, 2002, p. 451- 485; his essay ‘Domenichino e Viola’  in the catalogue of the Domenichino  exh., Rome, 1996/97, p. 163-169; C. Whitfield, ‘Les paysages du Dominiquin et de Viole;, in Monuments et Mémoires,  Fondation Eugène Piot, LXIX (1988, p.  61-128; B. Granata, ‘ Giovanni Battista Viola: Nuove ricerche sul “Pittore dimenticato”’, in Annali dell’ Università di Ferrara, n. 3, 2002, p. 287-295. A few more details of Viola’s preesence in Rome are published by R. Vodret in ‘Alla ricerca di Ghiongrat, Studi sui libri parochiali romani (1600-1630) Rome, 2011, p. 34/35.

[2] Albani is documented in Bologna in the first three months of 1601, and seems to have arrived in Rome – with Reni – in the summer of that year. As Viola was so closely associated with him, it seems likely that they travelled to Rome together, but being a little older he may have preceded him there. Tiarini told Malvasia (Scritti originali del Conte Carlo Cesare Malvasia spettanti alla sua Felsina Pittrice, ed by Lea Marzocchi, Bologna [1982]) that he arrived in Rome with Albani, and this is also supported by Baldinucci (F. Baldinucci, Notizie deprofessori del disegno,, Firenze, ed, 1848, III, p. 359-60.

[3] Although Belinda Granata uses the authority of Malvasia to say that Viola studied with Annibale, what the author of iFelsina Pittrice actually says is da’ Carracci  in other words, with the Carracci (Felsina Pittrice, 1841 ed., II, p. 90; Baglione also named Viola as ‘tra li giovani, che furono allievi di Annibale Carracci’ (1642, p 173) but the chronology actually shows that although Annibale was still in charge of the Carracci workshop this arrangement disguised the Bolognese background and training that Viola had arrived in Rome with.

[4] Listed in the undated Colonna inventory quoted by B Granata, loc. cit 2002, p. 295.

[5] E. Norgate, Miniatura, or the Art of Limning, MS Bodleian Library. Oxford,  ed Muller and Morrell, New Haven, 1997, p. 87

[6] Although Spear (1980 and 1996/97) regarded this work as Viola’s, and related to the series of paintings done by the latter for Vincenzo Giustiniani, the two from the series that have surfaced (Flight into Egypt and Preaching of St John the Baptist) are quite distinctively different in handling, and it does not seem to be one of those paintings where the two collaborated.

[7] Including a version of the Fitzwilliam painting, rep. by Spear in the Domenichino retrospective 1996/97, p. 167, Fig.8)

[8] This could be No 45 on the 1662 Farnese  list  ‘Un paese in tela con lago barchette con figure che sonano della Scola degli Carracci segnato n. 108’.  For its history. see A Brejon de Lavergnée, L’Invenatire Lebrun de 1683: La Collection de tableaux de Louis XIV, Paris 1987, Cat. No. 163, p. 219.

[9] In the Patrizi Montoro collection, Rome, published by F. Gatta, ‘Dieci quadri di provenienza Peretti-Montalto rintracciati nella collezione Patrizi Montoro: Capolavori del primo ventennio del Seicento e un’ ipotesi attributivo a Domenichino per la Fuga delle ninfe’,  in Bollettino dArte, 94, 2009, I,Fig 16, 17,) and also by B. Granata, Le passioni virtuose: Collezionismo e committenze artistiche a Roma del Cardinale Alessandro Peretti Montalto (1574-1623), Roma 2012, Fig 77, 78.

[10] Grimaldi knew his predecessor’s work well, even though Viola had died before he arrived in Rome in the mid 1620s. As a professional landscapist in a consciously Bolognese idiom, he sought out the works of his elders for study and imitation: it is he in particular who refers to the close company Viola kept with Albani.

[11] Scritti originali del Conte Carlo Cesare Malvasia spettanti alla sua Felsina Pittrice, ed by Lea Marzocchi, Bologna [1982]. These notes, which entered the Biblioteca Comunale di Bologna  (MS B 16-17) in 1872 from the collection of Principe Filippo Hercolani, represent Malvasia’s officina segreta,  with much original material that was not included in the Felsina. Attached to Malvasia’s own notes is Grimaldi’s account (f. 283) received by Malvasia on 6 March, 1670.

[12] F. Baldinucci, Notizie deprofessori del disegno,, Firenze, ed, 1848, III, p. 359-60.

[13] Malvasia, Scritti originali, p. 302

[14] There was a falling out between Viola and Albani prompted by the inheritance issues that stemmed from Silvia Gemelli’s death in 1618.

[15] See for example R. Spear, in ‘Domenichino e Viola’ in exh. cat., Domenichino, Rome, 1996/97, p. 163

[16] Tiarini reported to Malvasia “A Roma stava col’ Albani, parlavano alla rovescia con tanta franchezza ch’era cosa da stupire e facevano più stupire chi li sentiva non sapendosi immaginare che linguaggio fosse quello’  Malvasia Scritti originali… etc, p. 371.

[17] R. Vodret, Alla ricerca di “Ghiongrat” Studi sui libri parocchiali romani (1600-1631)  Rome 2011, p. 34/35

[18] S. Loir, Peintures du Louvre, Ecole italienne du XVIIième siècle, I, Bologne, 1996, p. 364/65. The St Eustace was originally attributed to ‘Carrache’ in Paris,(until after 1961) and was vaued twice as much as the painting by Brill.

[19] Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, 1678, II, p. 91

[20]  Scritti origiinali… etc, p. 374.   The published text in the Felsina (p. 91) is slightly different ‘Nel casino in mezzo al giardino del già detto sig Card. Montalto, oltre i due (non l’un solo) paesi grandi, a concorrenza del Brillo, due grandi a olio con le figure del sig Francesco Albani…’

[21] B. Granata, ‘Giovanni Battista Viola: Nuove ricerche sul ‘pittore dimenticato’,  Annali dellUniversità di Ferrara, 3, 2002, p. 290.

[22] see Granata 2002 loc. cit.

[23] pace B. Granata, Le passioni virtuose: Collezionismo e committenze artistiche a Roma del Cardinale Alessandro Peretti Montalto (1574-1623), Roma 2012, p. 170/171.

[24] A.M. Pedrocchi, Le stanze del tesoriere, La quadreria Patrizi, Cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento, Milano, 2000, p. 296-297; F. Gatta, ‘Dieci quadri di provenienza Peretti-Montalto rintracciati nella collezione Patrizi Montoro: Capolavori del primo ventennio del Seicento e un’ ipotesi attributivo a Domenichino per la Fuga delle ninfe’,  in Bollettino dArte, 94, 2009, I, p. 53-75. Gatta assumes that the Landscape with Nymphs and Satyrs is by Domenichino, but he had only taken in Granata’s publication of the Montalto payments in 1607 at a late stage of his text.

[25] Published by B. Granata, Le passioni virtuose: Collezionismo e committenze artistiche a Roma del Cardinale Alessandro Peretti Montalto (1574-1623), Roma 2012, from the Archivio Urbano, Fedecomiso  e primogenitura del Card. Francesco Peretti Montalto, 3 maggio, 1655: [311-312]  Quadri due di Paesi e marina in uno di essi Paesi e boscaglia con satiri che danno la Caccia ad alcune Ninfe in atto di lavarsi in uno stagno e l’altro marina con varij Vascelli di alto bordo, e Galere Riviera piena di marinari et altre genti con cornice nera rabescata di bianco et Imprese della Casa’. Despite Granata’s doubts (ibid. p. 171, n. 273), and the absence of attributions in the 1655 inventory, it is evident that these are the paintings referred to by Grimaldi in Malvasia’s notes, and by Baglione in his biography of Viola. The collection was inherited by [Cardinal] Paolo Savelli, (b. 1623)  the son of Maria Felice Peretti (son of Michele Peretti, Alessandro Peretti Montalto’s brother) and Bernardino Savelli.

[26] The painting by Brill has a coat of arms of the Peretti-Caviglia della Somaglia family, and Gatta has related this to descent from Margherita della Somaglia, the first wife of Principe Michele Peretti, Cardinal Montalto’s brother (she died in 1613).

[27] See B. Granata, loc. cit., 2002, p. 293/94, , Figs, 5, 6, for these pictures, which she dates late in Viola’s career, around the time of the Ludovisi fresco.

[28] Gatta, loc. cit, Fig. 16, 17; also reproduced by Granata, Le passioni virtuose,,,, cit, 2012, Fig. 77, 78

[29] Granata, loc. cit., 2002, p.290.

[30] Scritti Originali, etc., p. 374. The text Malvasia published is slightly different  ‘levati tutti a rigoroso prezzo da gli oltramontani, come può ben attestare, dic’ egli il Sig. Grimaldi, averne veduto molti in vari gabinetti di que’ signori, senza li tanti nel palagio del sig Card. Mazzarini, allora che si trovava in Parigi a’ servigi di quell’ Eminentissimo’ ( ed. 1841, II, p. 92).

[31] The painting listed  (no. 330) in the 1603 Aldobrandini inventory as a ‘quadretto con un paese d’acqua di mano dell’ istesso [Viola] is probably the same as the ‘quadretto con un paese di Cagna caccia di Gio. Batta. Viola del n. 330”  becauae of the dog swimming after the ducks, now under Inv 368/323 in the Galleria Doria. Viola must have been ‘un poco aiutato in the main figures, but the disproportion of the features, figures and trees, perspective, seems to already be true to form. See E. Safarik, La Galleria Doria Pamphilj, 1982, Pl. 206, p. 129.

[32] Most of the ‘painters’ who worked in Rome were pittori doratori, in other words they undertook decoration, including grotesques and landscape panels, rather than history paintings; they would have included among many others Caravaggio’s employer Lorenzo Carli the ’pittore Siciliano, che di opere grossolane tenea bottega’, Prospero Orsi, and Spadarino’s brother Giacomo (Galli); see P. Cavazzini, Painting as Business in Seventeenth Century Rome, Pennsylvania State University, 2008, p. 29 f.

[33] Reported to Malvasia, see Scritti originali etc., ed Lea Marzocchi  , p. 371.

[34] C.C. Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, ed. 1841, II, p. 91/92

[35] The Giustiniani origin of the Flight into Egypt was emphasised by Lebrun by including the Italian family’s arms in the French frame he had made to sell it in.

[36] C. Whitfield, ‘Les paysages du Dominiquin et de Viole, Monuments et Mémoires, Fondation Eugène Piot, 69, 1988, p. 114/115.

[37] 160,5 by 205 cm, from the Giustiniani collection as indicated in the British Institution exhibition of 1816 (as Domenichino); see Whitfielld, Domenichino et Viola, Monuments Piot, 1988, p. 113/114)

[38] canvas, 161 by 205 cm; given by Cardinal Fabrizio Spada to Louis XIV, called Annibale Carracci and Paul Brill, F. Cappelletti, Paul Bril. Rome 2005/06, p. 308, No. 175

[39] see C. Whitfield, ‘A Programme for “Erminia and the Shepherds” by G.B. Agucchi’ in Storia dellArte, 19, 1973, p. 217-229