View of the Colosseum in Rome
  • Jean-Baptiste Lallemand
  • Dijon 1710 - 1803 Paris
  • View of the Colosseum in Rome
  • Gouache on paper,
    framing lines with brush and black ink
  • 268 × 378 mm
Private collection, Rome

The artist’s point of view for this vista of Roman landmarks lay in what is now the Via di San Gregorio. The viewer’s glance sweeps from the Palatine Hill with its imperial palace ruins on the left to the remnants of the former aqueduct of Claudius, which once supplied the Palatine with water.

Somewhat hidden behind the aqueduct is the triumphal arch of Emperor Constantine, which marked the beginning of the ancient Via Triumphalis. The senate erected the arch from 312 to 315 in honour of the victorious commander after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. The triple arch was the first classical building restored by Pope Paul III for the entrance of Emperor Charles V into Rome in 1536.

The powerful ruins of the Colosseum, the ancient amphitheatre of the Flavians, dominate the righthand side of the image. Emperor Vespasian began the enormous structure in 70 A.D., and it was dedicated by his son Titus a decade later. It could seat approximately 50,000 spectators and was both the largest and most advanced building of its time (see cat. no. 23).

Despite the wealth of detail in this gouache, Lallemand took certain artistic liberties in order to make an effective scene out of the individual elements, so that some proportions and classical buildings would strike today’s art historian as distorted.