The Temple of Venus in Baiae
  • Jean-Baptiste Lallemand
  • Dijon 1710 - 1803 Paris
  • The Temple of Venus in Baiae
  • Gouache on paper,
    framing lines with brush and black ink
  • 290 × 420 mm

Shortly after 1750, Jean-Baptiste Lallemand moved like many of his colleagues to Rome, where he soon succumbed to the spell of antiquity and the light of the South. Even after his return to France in 1761, these impressions dominated his landscapes.

Baiae, not far from Naples on the Bay of Pozzuoli, was a popular spa town during the Roman Empire due to its natural hot springs of volcanic origin. Remnants of the luxurious thermal baths are preserved today in an archaeological park near the Plegrean Fields. There, three formerly domed buildings stand out, traditionally named after Diana, Venus, and Mercury, although they never actually served the function of temples.

The most powerful of these three structures is the Temple of Venus, which has inspired countless landscape painters in the orbit of Naples since the eighteenth century. Lallemand himself painted another version of this subject in the same medium (Fig.1). The round brickwork tower, with large arched windows and double vertical supports on its outer walls, still stands near the coast, although due to constant changes in sea level portions of ancient Baiae can only be seen underwater today.