The temple of Vesta at Tivoli
  • Joseph-Benoît Suvée
  • Bruges 1743 - 1807 Paris
  • The temple of Vesta at Tivoli
  • Red chalk on laid paper
  • unknown collector’s mark on the verso
  • 504 × 380 mm
Private collection, Paris

Red chalk became the preferred medium for the extensive drawing studies of the young fellows at the French Academy in Rome after 1770, as their famous predecessors JeanHonoré Fragonard or Hubert Robert had already predetermined. Together with Vincent, Pâris and Chaix, Suvée immediately assumed this style and remained likewise true to these role models in the thematic selection of his sheets. The remnants of the great past in his new surroundings served him again and again as an inexhaustible reservoir of spectacular motives – like, for instance, these famous temple ruins above the waterfalls at Tivoli.

The roof of this ancient round temple from the 1st century BCE was held up by eighteen Corinthian columns, ten of which have been preserved to the present day around the cella and support an especially finely decorated moulding.The remains of a rectangular temple – which, according to legend, served as the residence of the Tiburtine sibyl, one of the ten most famous prophetesses from antiquity – connects directly to the building. The rotunda, however, conforms more to the type of sanctuary associated with the Roman vestals.

We thank Anne Leclair for confirming this drawing’s attribution.