These fine architectural landscape views follow the popular Italian style of painting of the 18th century which sought to create elegant vistas from imagined perspectives.
The capriccio or architectural fantasy, is regarded as having come to prominence through the skill of Marco Ricci (b.1676 – d.1730) who enjoyed popular success with his imagined views of ruins when he came to England in 1710. The style was later developed by Giovanni Paolo Panini (b.1691 – d.1765) whose works of Rome included views of the architecture arranged as pictures in a gallery. In the 1740s, Giovanni Battista Piranesi created a famous series of engravings entitled `Prisons (Carceri)` which, instead of the idealised and tourist-friendly views of Rome, created an imagined labyrinth of vaulted, subterranean spaces filled with all manner of industrial machinery. The creation of entirely imagined spaces moved the art of the capricci out of strict reality and gave artists the space to dream any number of fantastical schemes.
In the views presented here a balanced and urbane order is brought to the composition both in structure and colour. Whilst in the background we see clearly what resembles real hilltop Italian towns, the foreground entertains us in its apparent gathering of refined architectural elements enhanced by carefully considered figurative groups and individuals. The dash of primary colour used for the clothing of those more prominently centred figures in both compositions draws the eye and contrasts with the stonework of the structures they inhabit. Such compositions were avidly sought by travellers embarking on the grand tour across the continent and were stable pictures in many English country house collections of the 18th century.