Inness probably painted Villa Borghese, Rome from the sketches he made during his first trip to Italy from February 1851 to May 1852, when he spent several months in Florence and then settled in Rome. Entitled View near Florence when the painting was given to the MFA in 1921, the scene depicted...
Inness probably painted Villa Borghese, Rome from the sketches he made during his first trip to Italy from February 1851 to May 1852, when he spent several months in Florence and then settled in Rome. Entitled View near Florence when the painting was given to the MFA in 1921, the scene depicted has since been identified as a view of the Villa Borghese in Rome. Inness included the distinctive towers of the villa and its surrounding stone (or umbrella) pine trees and cypresses. Early in the seventeenth century, the area had been developed by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope Paul V, who turned what had once been a large vineyard at the edge of Rome into a garden. He built the villa as a pastoral residence for himself and his art collection. In 1903 the gardens of the Villa Borghese, which had long been informally open to visitors, were bought from the Borghese family by the commune of Rome and officially made accessible to the public. Today the grounds are the second-largest park in Rome, and the villa currently houses the Galleria Borghese, a museum renowned for its seventeenth-century sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and other art treasures. Inness’s small Villa Borghese, Rome appears to be one of two studies for a larger work of 1857 entitled Italian Landscape (1857, location unknown).The other study, Souvenir of Italy (about 1857, private collection), is about twice the size of the MFA’s canvas. Inness gave Villa Borghese, Rome and Souvenir of Italy to friends in Medfield, Massachusetts, where he lived between 1860 and 1864. Notes 1. Michael Quick, George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2007), 136. 2. Italian Landscape was in the collection of Robert Graves, Brooklyn, New York, in 1965. Janet L. Comey
By 1864, given by the artist to Harriet Reed (Mrs. Daniel) Adams (1794-1872), Medfield, Mass.; 1872, by descent to her daughter, Mary Baxter Adams (Mrs. Willam Bentley) Fowle (1832-1893), Medfield; 1893, by descent to her daughter, Harriet Adams Fowle (born 1862), Medfield; gift of Harriet A. Fowle to the Lodge of St. Andrew, Medfield; 1921, gift of the Lodge of St. Andrew to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 3, 1921)
Gift of Lodge of Saint Andrew