Diverses vues de Rome. Title plate., result 1 of 1
Herman van Swanevelt (1603-1655) was a Dutch painter and etcher from the Baroque era. He was born to a family of thriving artisans in Woerden, which was even in those days in easy reach of the Netherlands' four leading cities.
Like many of the Dutch artists of his day, Swanevelt spent many years in Rome, where there was a community of artists from Holland, Flanders, France and Germany. There he specialised in highly composed Italianate landscape paintings for a royal and aristocratic clientele. Landscape painting came into vogue as an independent genre in Italy in the early 17th century, and its greatest practitioners tended to be northern European trained or influenced. Paul Bril, like Swanevelt, was Dutch; Nicolas Poussin was French; and perhaps the most famous of them all, Claude Lorraine, was from Lorrain/Lorraine in eastern France but then part of the Holy Roman Empire.
After more than a decade in Rome, Swanevelt moved to Paris, which was starting to rival Rome as a cultural centre, and in 1651, not long before his death, he became a member of the newly established Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture).
It was in Paris that Swanevelt produced the majority of his one hundred or so landscape etchings. Many of them are based on religious or mythological subjects, though the series discussed here represents a combination of topography, landscape and imagination. This etching is the title-page to the twelve views of Rome that follow, which are diversely known as Diverses vues de Rome (Bartsch) and Diverses veues desseignees en la Ville de Rome (British Museum), the latter following the text of this print. It contains personifications of Architecture holding a tablet on the left and Painting with a palette and brushes on the right. Both of them stand in an archway in which a sheet bearing the grandiose Latin dedication to Gédéon Tallemant (1619-92), a major early French biographer, has been suspended. His family arms are in the lower centre, in front of scattered books, dividers and rulers. The dedication dates the series from Swanevelt's final years in Paris (1641-1655), probably at the latter end of this period. Te Papa is fortunate to have a complete set of these etchings; they were presented to the Colonial Museum by Bishop Ditlev Monrad in 1869.
David Maskill, 'Herman van Swanevelt...', in William McAloon (ed.), Art at Te Papa (Wellington: Te Papa Press, 2009), p. 35.
Dr Mark Stocker Curator, Historical International Art May 2019
Now viewing Diverses vues de Rome. Title plate.