1668 - 1738
Arcadia Landscape in Summer

Oil on canvas
Image size: 25 1/4 x 33 inches (64 x 84 cm)
17th century carved silver gilt frame

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The term ‘Arcadia’ derived from the Greek province of the same name which dates to antiquity. This area’s mountainous topography and pastoral nature later caused the word to be synonymous for an idyllic vision of unspoiled wilderness.

In this fabulous landscape, we receive a scene of bountiful natural splendour and harmony. Indeed, the notion of the ‘Arcadia’ was often associated with the habitation of shepherds, as seen here in the bottom left of the foreground. The image we are presented here clearly presents us with utopian ideals that echos the perfectionism of the Garden of Eden.

This painting is a wonderful example of Tavella’s ability to lure the viewer into a distant world and make that world seem welcoming and familiar. In a gentle wooded setting reminiscent of the hills of the Roman Campagna, shepherds and couples go about their lives. They are surrounded by imposing trees whose foliage creates a rich play with the light clouds and the changing hues of the sky. Against the aqua blue that saturates the sky, these humble figures gain a simple dignity. Everything in this tranquil setting exudes a feeling of well-being. Although the human figures are dwarfed by the majestic trees, man and nature seem to exist in perfect harmony.

This painting exemplifies Tavella’s wide-ranging cultural references, where the classicizing rendering of the Roman campagna, much indebted to Dughet and Claude, is energized by an exuberant draughtsmanship learnt from his master, the Dutchman Pieter Mulier, il Tempesta.

 

 

Carlo Antonio Tavella (1668–1738) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, in his lifetime he was a respected and very active landscape painter. In his youth spent quite some time in the Emilia Romagna and Tuscany and became familiar with the work of Crescenzio Onofri in Florence.

Mainly in Genoa where he helped to decorate the Palazzo Franchi. He was also called il Solfarolo.Tavella was born in Milan to a Genoese merchant, and died in Genoa. He was initially the pupil of the painter Giuseppe Merati, then later of a painter by the name of Johann Gruembroech or Greuenbrech. Later in 1695, Tavella worked in the studio with the Dutch painter Pieter Mulier II (Molyn) called Cavalieri Tempesta or il Tempesta. He helped decorate the Palazzo Franchi. Tavella had daughters by of the name of Angiola and Teresa who was a painter. Among his other pupils was Niccolo Micone, or as he is commonly called by his fellow-citizens Lo Zoppo.

Tavella’s painting possesses unmistakably eclectic stylistic features, drawing upon many different sources of inspiration. Apart from Tempesta, it was mainly the landscape art of Gaspar Dughet and Salvator Rosa which most shaped his style, although the influence of Genoese painting, particularly the pastoral genre scenes of Scorza and Castiglione, is unmistakable. Tavella painted the landscape backgrounds for many Genoese painters, such as Domenico and Paolo Girolamo Piola, while in his own works the figures were often provided by fellow painters, such as the Piolas and Alessandro Magnasco.

Works by the artist are held at Burghley House,