A69: Ruins of a Temple with an Apostle Preaching
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Ruins of a Temple with an Apostle Preaching|
|Additional titles||Capriccio of Ruins
Marius amid the ruins of Carthage
|Object type||In category: Pictures » Painting|
Panini, Giovanni Paolo (Italian painter, ca. 1692-1765) (known) - Painter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Southern Europe » Italy » Central Italy » Rome|
86.5 cm height frame
70.0 cm width frame
7.5 cm depth frame
64.2 cm height sight
48.0 cm width sight
|Materials & techniques||
Pictures: Medium » Paint » Oil paint
Pictures: Support » Canvas
A capriccio of ruins and antique monuments. Two arches (one behind the other) spring from Corinthian columns dominating the centre and right of the scene, with ruins of a Doric building to the left. On the left below at the base of the columns, a large tomb and part of a low-relief frieze with figures. On the right, a statue of an armed male on a drum-shaped plinth, facing into the centre. Grouped around the ruins, figures of soldiers and old men, dominated by an old man in green robe and red cloak gesturing to the right. On the right sitting at base of the statue, two young soldiers at rest. Blue sky and clouds visible through the columns and arches. In a carved and gilded C18 frame.
|Marks and inscriptions||
Buildings and gardens
This capriccio is one of a pair, the other being Ruins of a Temple with a Sibyl (A70).
This architectural fantasy of ruined arches and pillars also includes some examples of antique sculpture: a statue of Achilles and the so-called tomb of Achilles, which often feature in similar works. The artist has added life to the scene with gesturing figures, a crowd of soldiers and old men listening to a bearded preacher, who may represent the apostle St Paul. Groups of figures, such as the two soldiers lower right, were often recycled from earlier works.
The monogram in the lower left-hand corner indicates that this is an early work by Panini. David Marshall of the University of Melbourne has identified this as a genuine Panini signature, and dates the work to c.1719.
The title for this picture used by Holburne in his 1867 catalogue, 'Marius Lamenting over the Ruins of Carthage', is incorrect. The Roman general Gaius Marius (157-86 BC) escaped to Carthage as an old man of 70; as he gave himself up, he described himself as 'Marius sitting on the ruins of Carthage'. Traditional images of this subject show Marius as an old bearded man unarmed. The languid young soldier sitting in the lower right corner (whom Holburne may have taken to be Marius, or his son) is merely staffage and appears in other works of this period of different subjects.
The action here seems to be centred on the bearded man gesturing in the centre, of a type traditionally identified as 'An Apostle Preaching'. The meaning of the narrative could be interpreted as St Paul at Athens: The Acts of the Apostles (Chap 17) recounts how Paul came to Athens and spoke to the Greeks about their search for the true God; he urged them to give up worshipping such idols as the elegant statue of Achilles that the artist has placed on the right. The ruins around them may symbolise the collapse of the old pagan world in the face of Christianity. There are several examples by Panini and his circle of pairs of paintings, one with an Apostle, the other with a Sybil.The statue of Achilles pointing towards the tomb of Achilles appears in various works by Panini and his circle, often illustrating the theme 'Alexander at the Tomb of Achilles' - i.e. a warning to the mighty of their ultimate end.
The group of two soldiers sitting on a stone, lower right, is identical to one found in a painting by Panini's predecessor G Ghisolfi (Sotheby's 7 Feb 1979, Lot 24). However, the initial 'G' followed by a faint P shows that this is the work of G.P.Panini.
For a version of the same setting but without figures, see F. Arisi, Gian Paolo Panini, Soncino, 1991, no. 13 from Osuna Gallery, Washington: Capriccio architettonico con la statua di Achille, 60 x 45cm, apparently a preliminary study for the setting for this picture. Arisi dates this c.1718-19 and Marshall has agreed (see correspondence of 2006) that the Holburne capriccio is of a similar date.
Holburne catalogue 1867: 'Panini' – Dining Room
Holburne catalogue 1887: 'Panini'
Moeckler 1902: 'Panini'
Horace Buttery 1906: 'bad'
Blaker, pre 1913: 'Panini'A Register 1919: 'Panini'
Holburne catalogue 1927: 'Panini'
Holburne catalogue 1936: 'Panini' Correspondence with Arisi, 1960: 'dovrebbero essere giovanili (1720-25 circa)' – but photos are not clear enough
For similarities to the work of Ghisolfi, see D. R. Marshall, 'Early Panini Reconsidered: The Esztergom Preaching of an Apostle and the Relationship between Panini and Ghisolfi', in Artibus et Historiae, no. 36, XVIII, 1997, pp. 137-199.
1. Sotheby's 7 Feb 1979, Lot 24: G. Ghisolfi, The Ruins of a Temple.Comparable architectural setting, with similar group of soldiers seated on a square stone lower right.
2. Arisi 1986: C19 copy in Piacenza, Private Collection
3. Another copy of the pair: Christies New York 16 Jan 1992, Lot 39 (photos on file).
The Holburne of Menstrie Museum Catalogue: Part I: Pictures, Bath, 1936, no. 152
F. Arisi, G.P. Panini, Piacenza, 1962, p.116, no.27, fig. 51
C. Wright, Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Old Master Paintings executed before c.1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom, London, 1976, p. 155
F. Arisi, G.P. Panini e i Fasti della Roma del '700, Rome 1986, no. 111
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
The History of the Holburne Collection » Sir William Holburne and his Collection » Arranging the Collection: Sir William at Home
Oil paintings in the Holburne Museum
|Method of acquisition||Bequest|
|Provenance||Thomas William Holburne (1793-1874); by whom bequeathed to Mary Anne Barbara Holburne (1802-1882), by whom bequeathed to the Museum|
Title of exhibition: Art Treasures from the West Country
Title of exhibition: Italian Treasures, Victorian and Edwardian Taste in Italian Art
Title of exhibition: Town House Treasures: Sir William Holburne of Bath