Inscribed on the upper margin in pen and brown ink 'Prospect .. Vaticans zu Rom.' (recto), red chalk, brown and red wash (recto and verso)
258 x 371 mm. (10 1/8 x 14 5/8 in.
Pio's biography reports that at the age of 17 Alessio moved from Naples, his native city, to Rome, where he studied for 18 months with Philip Peter Roos and then completed his training by studying the work of Gaspard Dughet and painting subjects from life. He painted landscapes, portraying the most picturesque aspects of nature quickly and almost impressionistically, to obtain a highly decorative effect. In Rome he received commissions from such noble families as the Teodoli, Albani and Ruspoli. In 1715 he frescoed the two main rooms of the ground-floor apartment of the Palazzo Ruspoli with landscapes and views. On this project he collaborated with such distinguished painters as Antonio Amorosi and Andrea Locatelli to create a decorative complex that included seascapes, bambocciate (low-life subjects), history paintings and mythological themes. Alessio de Marchiss career was chequered. His desire for painting conflagrations in the countryside led to his setting fire to a hay loft to obtain a more natural effect. He was imprisoned by Pope Clement XI Albani, but was then patronized by the Popes nephews Cardinals Alessandro and Annibale for whom he painted landscape decorations for the Palazzo Albani at Urbino and the Villa Albani, Rome.
Our drawings is a characteristic double sided drawing by de Marchis, with his typical medium of red chalk and brownish red wash. A drawing stylistically comparable was recently on the market1. This drawing is of a similar size and carries a similar inscription, however the inscription on our drawing is German rather than Italian. Other very comparable drawings are at Windsor Castle2 and the British Museum3.
The view of the recto seems to be a view of the Sistine Chapel from the back, the 3 arched windows on the sloped roof seem to appear on both the present drawing and the contemporary view. Additionally the row of sculptural figures on the balustrade appear on both the contemporary view [Figure 1] and the present drawing. It is also likely that over the last 260 years the architecture has slightly changed. The verso depicts the Fontana dell' Acqua Paola at the Gianicolo.4
1.Anonymous sale, Christies London, 3 July 2007, lot 53.
2.Inventory number 6638.
4.Thanks to Paolo Antonacci for identifying the view.