Amersfoort 1653 - Rom 1736
Oil on canvas
51 x 97,6 cm


Van Wittel was a pupil of Matthias Withoos, a still life and architecture painter. He was further painting in the spirit of Dutch town painters like Gerrit Berckheyde or Jan van der Heyden. In 1674 the young artist settles in Rome, where at that time Pope Clemens X, pushed the project to make the Tiber navigable from Perugia to the Tyrrhenian sea. Van Wittel, who Italianized his name to Vanvitelli, was meant to illustrate this project. His first preserved Italian vedute is dated 1681.
In the 17th century there was a huge demand for views of the most important landmarks, which were satisfied up to that time by etchings. Being the first artist in Italy who painted vedute in oil, made him the artist the most in demand of roman noble families at that time. His light-flooded landscape scenes with its bright coulour scheme had great influence on painters like Pannini, Carlevarijs, Canaletto or Guardi.

Van Wittel painted a numerous amount of very precise topographic views of Rome and the country side nearby. His frequent travels took him to Florence, Bologna, Padua and Venice and especially Naples, where he used to lived for a time. One of his favourit motive was the surroundings of Rome, from Tivoli to Frascati, from Grottaferrata to Nettuno and from Ronciglione to Capranola. During this travels Van Wittel painted and sketched various landscapes and little sceneries, which became part of this works.

Our painting, presents the spectacular waterfall of Aniene in Tivolo, befor this feeder of the Tiber was rerouted in 1834. There are a number of variations of this particular subject from various angles in his oeuvre. In our painting the artist used the position from the San Martino bridge. On the left side, straight at the Via Valeria there can be seen the small church of Santa Maria del Ponte with its belfry. Washerwomen are washing, people walking around with their umbrellas, whilst talking.

Tivoli, which is about 30 km from Rome, became more attractive since the end of the middle age because of its beautiful setting and attractions, especially the pittoresque ruins, more and more attractive to travelers as well as painters, and etchers. It became famous thanks to a Pieter Brueghel etching dating around 1555/56. This etching shows undoubtly the same view as in our painting although the composition is more free.


About thirty different Views of Tivoli by Gaspar van Wittel between 1691 and 1723 are known.


Works in Museums:
National Gallery, Washington DC
British Museum, London
Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Hermitage, St.Petersburg
Bibliotheca Nationale, Rome
Prado, Madrid
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna



Julius Böhler, Munich
Sale Fischer, Luzern, 25.08.1932, Cat..-No. 167.
Private Collection Switzerland


Walther Bernt, Die Niederländischen Maler des 17.Jahrhundert, 4th Volume, Munich 1962, No 318
Giuliano Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel e l’origine della veduta settecentesca, Roma 1966, No.158, Illustration Nr. 243.
Giulio Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel, nuova edizione e cura di Laura Laureati e Ludovico Trezzani, Milano 1996, No 263
Laura Laureati and Ludovica Trezzani, Bonhams in London, a modified smaller Version of “Veduta di Tivolo, la vecchia cascata e la riva sinistra dell’Aniene” appeard (oil on canvas, 26,9 x 45 cm, Lot Nr. 136).


La veechia cascate dell`Aniene, Tivoli, c.1700-10
Oil on canvas, 50 x 100cm

The Waterfall and Town of Tivoli
Pen and brown ink with brown and gray wash over black chalk, squared for transfer with red chalk, onlaid paper
37.1 × 48.7 cm (14 5/8 × 19 3/16 in)
National Gallery, Washington DC