stairway around a fountain in a garden; tall trees at L; 2 sculptures at overlook at top of stairs at center; figures at LLC and at overlook

The Grand Staircase of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, 1760

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The talented, versatile French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a gifted landscapist. He took up landscape in earnest during his five years in Italy, including one memorable summer ensconced at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, which his patron the Abbé de Saint-Non had rented for the season. The villa’s dramatic, picturesque gardens had drawn legions of artists to Tivoli—twenty miles west of Rome—for centuries. Fragonard used his stay mainly to produce mostly red-chalk studies drawn en plein air, or outside. This picture, executed back in Fragonard’s studio in Rome, was inspired by one of those drawings. Fragonard used the gathering clouds, cooling mists from the Fountain of the Dragon, and shade of lush cypresses to capture some relief on a sweltering summer day. This painting was swiftly acquired by the director of the French Academy in Rome, Charles-Joseph Natoire, an early champion of the landscape genre.

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Details
Title
The Grand Staircase of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli
Artist Life
1732–1806
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2001.235
Curator Approved

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stairway around a fountain in a garden; tall trees at L; 2 sculptures at overlook at top of stairs at center; figures at LLC and at overlook