Washerwomen conversing before a lake in an Italianate landscape oil on canvas 109.5 x 136.2cm (43 1/8 x 53 5/8in).
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, England
The present view may depict Lake Nemi, if not one of the other volcanic lakes in the vicinity of Rome, which the artist was fond of painting and which were particularly popular with English Grand Tourists. The painting may be compared to the View of Lake Nemi looking South West towards the town of Genzano, sold in these rooms, 6 December 2006, lot 70 (£62,000); to the pair of views by Labruzzi sold at Christie's, London, 18 April 1997, lot 200 (£38,900), and to the landscape sold at Christie's, London, 29 October 1999, lot 104 (£17,200). The large classical figures with their strong chiaroscuro are particularly reminiscent of those that feature in the thirteen aquatints that Labruzzi produced in the album that he dedicated to Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Bt..
In 1789, Sir Richard invited Labruzzi to accompany him along the Appian Way, making drawings of ancient tombs and villas, following the itinerary outlined by the Roman poet Horace in his description of a journey to Brindisi in 39 B.C.. However, bad weather and ill-health prevented Labruzzi from finishing the trip, and the journey was curtailed at Minturno, and Labruzzi returned to Rome after they reached Terracina. Colt Hoare was to bind two hundred and twenty-six finished pen and wash drawings into five volumes, some of which are now in the British Museum and the Accademia di San Luca, Rome.