Landscape with Aqueduct
Bathed in cool sunlight, a crumbling ruin dominates this atmospheric landscape. Glimpsed in the background is an aqueduct, carrying water to a distant hilltop town in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Italy. This is one of Carlo Bonavia’s (active 1740-1788) ‘capricci’ – a type of imaginary and whimsical landscape scene. The artist has incorporated real elements of the Neapolitan countryside into an idealised, fictional setting infused with mellow tones and soft light.
Bonavia trained in the Neapolitan landscape tradition, as developed by the artist Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) but was strongly influenced by the palette and atmosphere of paintings by the French painter Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789), who had visited Naples in 1737 and 1746. Bonavia’s whimsical Neapolitan landscapes were hugely popular with wealthy patrons and tourists who flocked to Naples during European travels and were keen to take home a souvenir.