A TRIBUTE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT ROME, Charles Robert Cockerell

A TRIBUTE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT ROME, Charles Robert Cockerell

1819 United Kingdom

Offered by Charles Plante Fine Arts

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This stunningly beautiful panorama is by one of the finest of British draughtsman-architects, produced in 1817 and exhibited at the Royal Academy (1819) it established his reputation after one of the longest and most fruitful grand tours of any British architect. The delicate penmanship indicates why, as a young man, he had begged his architect father to allow him to become an artist not an architect.

Cockerell's understanding of urban design, indebted to Piranesi, is seen in related drawings now in the British Architectural Library Drawings Collection, especially 'The reconstruction of Athens in the time of the Antonines' (c.1819). A pair to the present drawing, it similarly concentrates on buildings erected at a time when, as Gibbon memorably put it, 'in the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind.' (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776).

Cockerell's drawing was exhibited as 'An Idea of a Reconstruction of the Capital and Forum of Rome, from an elevated point between the Pallatine (sic) Hill and the Temple of Antoine (sic) and Faustina from the existing remains, the authorities of ancient writers and the descriptions of Piranesi, Nardini (Roma Antica (1666), Venuti (Accurata, e succinta descrizione topografica delle antichite di Roma (1763) ), and others.' To these 'modern' sources Cockerell appends a hand-written quotation from the Pharsalia of Lucan (39-65AD) recording the battle between Caesar and Pompey.

This view depicts the western half of the Forum of the 2nd century AD. Conjectural restorations of vanished buildings include the Arch of Fabianus (121BC) at right angles to the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina of 141 AD (extreme right), now S. Lorenzo in Miranda.

In sharp perspective (centre left) is the vanished Arch of Tiberius, on twin peaks (background) are the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus ( right), and, following Nardini's account, the ancient temple of Jupiter Feretrius ( left). On the Palatine Hill (extreme left) is the later Palace of the Caesars with an arched loggia given a Quattrocento flavour. To the right, he includes the Arch of Septimius Severus (not built until 203AD). The largest temple (left), is that of Castor and Pollux (or Jupiter Stator) rebuilt 7BC-6AD.

The varied grouping enlivened with belvederes, loggias, and a single palm tree, exemplifies Cockerell's remarkable mastery of Picturesque composition.
Dr W Godfrey Allen (Surveyor to St Paul's 1931-56); Cecil Brown
Dimensions
Height 584.00 mm (22.99 inches)
Width 864.00 mm (34.02 inches)
Medium
Pen and ink with watercolour
Signed/Inscribed
Inscribed: Inscribed extensively
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
50 Gloucester Street
London
SW1V 4EH

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