Fantastical architectural scenes generally were popularised by Italian artists of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. However the Flanders painter Jacob Ferdinand Saeys, also found great popularity in this field outside of Italy. A pupil of his uncle, Wilhelm Schubert von Ehrenberg, who was also a painter of architectural scenes and church interiors, both were in turn influenced by Viviano Codazzi (1604 – 1670), an Italian painter of architectural perspective scenes and landscapes with ruins.
Such was the enduring appeal of Saeys work with its dramatic lighting, skillful rendering of perspective, and of different materials, particularly marble, other artists continued his legacy. The painting presented here is very similar in composition to a large number of imagined views by Saeys, with typically a striking columned façade seen from an angle that continues the scene through an elegant vista, in this case a vast courtyard entered by a towering pedimented gateway. The manner of painting and the courser weave of canvas in this instance suggest this particular scene was painted by an Italian artist influenced by the Dutch master and could well have been originally set into the wall for decorative purposes. Such capriccio pictures were sometimes created to adorn the panelled space above a doorway to drawing rooms or hallways in large houses.