Abraham Louis Rodolphe Ducros (Yverdon 1748-1810 Lausanne)
The falls of the Aniene at Tivoli watercolour on paper 72 x 109cm (28 3/8 x 42 15/16in).
PROVENANCE Lord Howard de Walden (according to a label on the reverse) With Abbott & Holder, circa 1980 Private Collection, UK
Ducros was one of the most productive watercolourists working in Rome in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. Swiss by birth, he arrived in Rome in 1776 and soon gained a reputation for his landscape views in watercolour and oil. He attracted the patronage of foreign tourists, travelling extensively around Italy and, in collaboration with the printmaker Giovanni Volpato, reproduced a number of his works in the form of hand-coloured outline etchings. He was also commissioned by Pope Pius VI to accompany him on a trip to the Pontine Marshes in 1783.
Of Ducros's British patrons, the most significant was probably Sir Richard Colt Hoare who commissioned no less than eleven views from him as well as some of the coloured etchings. Among the group of watercolours that still hang at his Wiltshire home, Stourhead, is another version of the present composition (66 x 101.5cm). Ducros is known to have painted more than one version of his most popular subjects; he painted on a large scale, often pasting several sheets of paper together on to linen and using gum Arabic to add accents, as varnish would be used on an oil painting. His success in rendering the effects of light as it filters through the leaves, and of rising spray as the Aniene thunders over the falls were not lost on Colt Hoare who found Tivoli to be even more beautiful than he had expected. The subject, with its dramatic, awe-inspiring scene of untamed nature - presided over by the classical Temple of the Sybil, was one of the most picturesque compositions that he was to acquire from Ducros. In 1787 Colt Hoare wrote to his half-brother Hugh, 'Du Cros an artist... whom I think I mentioned to you last year has done four drawings for me which (if they arrive safe in England) will be the admiration of the whole town & put all our English artists...to the blush'.