Description & Technical information

Waterfalls, cascades and rapids were a favourite subject of Louis Bélanger throughout his career. A later watercolour and gouache view by the artist of the falls at Tivoli, dated 1792 and seen from a slightly different viewpoint, was acquired by the Government Art Collection in 1968, and is today in the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Another large view of the cascades at Tivoli, dated 1795, appeared at auction in Switzerland in 2007.

The famous falls at Tivoli, twenty miles from Rome, where the river Aniene drops some 330 feet, had long been a popular site for artists. As the English traveller Charlotte Waldie, writing in the early years of the 19th century, noted, ‘The beauty of Tivoli consists in its rocks and waterfalls...Amidst the dreary wilds of the Campagna you would never dream that a spot so romantic was at hand...what a prospect of unspeakable beauty bursts upon your view! Tremendous precipices of rock, down which roars a headlong torrent, - trees and bushy plants shading its foaming course, - cliffs crowned with the most picturesque ruins, and painted in tints whose beauty art can never imitate, - hills, and woods, and hanging vineyards; and Tivoli itself, which, peeping out amidst the dark cypresses at the top of these sunny banks, looks like an earthly paradise...The pencil only can describe Tivoli; and though unlike other scenes, the beauty of which is generally exaggerated in picture, no representation has done justice to it, it is yet impossible that some part of its peculiar charms should not be transferred upon the canvas. It almost seems as if nature herself had turned painter when she formed this beautiful and perfect composition.’

Date:  1783
Period:  1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Watercolour, Gouache
Signature: Signed and dated Belanger / 1783 at the lower left.

Provenance: Wildenstein, New York, in 1943
Denys Sutton, London
Thence by descent until 2013.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints