Widely regarded in the late nineteenth century as America’s premier landscape painter, Inness seems to have made fewer than fifty watercolors and even fewer drawings, and his technique in the former could be highly experimental. This picture is one of several watercolors he executed in Italy between 1870 and 1874. Even within this group, it is remarkable for its delicate balance of picturesque composition, fine draftsmanship, and painterly breadth. The minute but distinct cupola--undoubtedly Saint Peter’s basilica--on the horizon in the very center of the picture, and the road diminishing in its direction, indicate that the view is westerly toward Rome eighteen miles away.
Signature: [at lower left in graphite]: G. Inness / Tivoli
Inscription: [on verso]: Tivoli April 1873
Mrs. Jonathan Scott Hartley, New York; sale, American Art Association, New York, 24 Mar. 1927; Mrs. David Reese, Wellesley, Massachusetts; with Vose Galleries, Boston, 1927–1952; Mrs. Charles Sumner Bird, Walpole, Massachusetts, 1952–1978 or later; with Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, until 1989