Maecenas’ Villa (Tivoli)


Maecenas’ Villa (Tivoli) was published as plate four in W.B. Cooke’s series The Gems of Art: an edition of mezzotints after works by famous 16th, 17th and 18th-century artists. This plate is after a painting by Richard Wilson, which at the time hung in the Dulwich Picture Gallery and continues to be displayed there to this day.

Wilson is remembered as a pioneer and reviver of British landscape art. Trained in Italy, he painted idealised Italianate scenes like this view of Maecenas’ Villa (Tivoli) and landscapes based on classical literature in the style of Claude (1600-82). An artist, possibly Wilson himself, can be seen in the foreground of this view, painting the scene before him. The Tivoli ‘cascatelle’ or waterfall is at left, with the town itself above. At centre are the ruins of the Temple of Hercules Victor, formerly thought to be the villa of Emperor Octavian’s advisor Gaius Maecenas (68 BC-8 BC).

Full title:
Maecena's Villa (Tivoli). / painted by Richard Wilson R.A.; engraved on steel by Chas. Turner.
1 March 1823, London
William Bernard Cooke
Mezzotint engraving
Charles Turner, Richard Wilson
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Tab.438.a.1 (vol.3, f.63)

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The picturesque at home and abroad

Article by:
Carl Thompson

The ‘picturesque’ – an aesthetic ideal introduced in the 18th century – was one of Britain’s most influential cultural movements. Picturesque places were depicted widely in prints and drawings, published in engraving series and as illustrations to books, poems or travel guides. With reference to selected British Library collection items, Carl Thompson explores how the picturesque was employed to depict Britain’s domestic and imperial landscapes.

Related collection items