French School

18th Century

A View of Rome from the Convent of S. Onofrio on the Gianiculum Hill, with the Teatro alla Quercia del Tasso in the foreground

 

Gouache and watercolor.

10 ¼ x 13 ¼ inches (260 x 337 mm.).

This charming view of Rome depicts two Jesuit monks conversing on the steps of an open-air theatre, next to the 15thcentury church and monastery of Sant’Onofrio on the Gianiculum hill. The theatre was originally named Pii trattenimenti, because Saint Filippo Neri taught his pupils there.Later the theatre was named after Torquato Tasso (1544-1595). Tasso took refuge in the monastery for the last year of his tumultuous life, and he is said to have sat under the oak tree, depicted in the center of the drawing, dreaming and gazing at the view of Rome.[i]Stendhal, in his Promenades dans Romedescribed the location: “Early this morning, before the heat, we came to the Monastery of Sant’Onofrio. When he felt he was close to die, Tasso asked to be carried here; he was right: it is probably one of the most beautiful places where to die. From there the view of Rome, this town of tombs and memories, is so wide, so beautiful, that this last step to detach oneself from the earth must be less difficult. The view from the monastery is probably one of the most beautiful of the world. We returned from Naples and Syracusa, and it does not seem to us that another view could be preferred. In the garden we were seated under an antique oak tree; it is said to be there that Tasso, feeling close to the end of his life, came to see the sky for the last time”