Title: Campo Vaccino (The Roman Forum)
Dimensions: Sheet/plate: 7 7/8 x 10 1/4 inches (20 x 26 cm)
Bequest of William P. Chapman, Jr., Class of 1895
This relatively early view by one of the greatest French artists at work in Rome in the seventeenth century is very similar to Lorrain’s 1636 painting in the Louvre, which depicts all the major monuments of the Forum without singling any out for particular emphasis. The Colosseum, for example, is just barely visible in the far background, behind the church of Santa Francesca Romana. The profusion of figures—human and animal—on the Campo Vaccino, or “cow field,” a name derived from the cattle pastured there among the ruins— underscores the largely lawless state of the city at this time. In the foreground, soldiers of uncertain affiliation converse, while in the middle ground a group is engaged in the questionable practice of wagering on a bout of bull baiting. Claude’s apparently careless reversal of the scene, which attests to having been copied from the painting directly onto the plate, results in a mirrored composition when printed. Thus, the Arch of Septimius Severus, which should be on the left, is seen at right. This kind of reversal would be anathema to those artists at work in the heyday of the veduta a century later, who were concerned above all with presenting legible topographical views of the city. (Andrew C. Weislogel, "Mirror of the City: The Printed View in Italy and Beyond, 1450–1940," catalogue accompanying an exhibition organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, curated by Andrew C. Weislogel and Stuart M. Blumin, and presented at the Johnson Museum August 11–December 23, 2012)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.