Franz Ludwig Catel, “The Bay of Naples with Vesuvius and Castel dell’Ovo,” circa 1818-20, oil on paper, Thaw Collection

During the second half of the 18th century, a journey to Italy was considered an essential component in the education of young artists and noblemen from Northern Europe. They called it “The Grand Tour.” Important oil sketches from the Thaw Collection are currently on view here.

Although Venice and Florence were cities that drew the eyes of Northern European artists in the midst of their Grand Tours, it was definitively Rome and Naples that were the grand prize, if you will. Both cities offered celebrated archaeological sites and a taste of the unspoiled rural life of the campagna.

The Morgan Library & Museum on Madison Avenue in New York City is currently showcasing a wonderful display of important oil sketches from the Thaw Collection, which were executed en plein air during artists’ tours through Rome and Naples. “Artists recorded their observations of these natural and man-made wonders in small-scale studies,” the museum suggested, “mostly executed with oil paint on paper. In these oils, painters capture the grandiosity of Rome’s classical ruins and the sublime natural beauty of Naples, with its famous view of Mount Vesuvius. Artists from France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, and Sweden are featured in this selection.”

Titled “Views of Rome and Naples: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection,” the exhibition runs through March 18, 2018. To learn more, visit The Morgan Library & Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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