Entrance to the Farnese Gardens in Rome
  • Louis Chays
  • Aubagne 1744 - 1811 Paris
  • Entrance to the Farnese Gardens in Rome
  • Red chalk on paper
  • 545 × 425 mm
Private collection, Brussels

Under the arch of the former entrance, the artist drew the reception hall of the upper terraces of the Horti Palatini Farnesiorum. Thus named Giacomo da Vignola the gardens he created on the ruins of Empeor Tiberius’ palace for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, later Pope Paul III (1534 - 1549).

A central portico greeted the visitor to this refined set of stairs with a nymphaeum, large domed hall and two identical structures that previously housed the Uccelleria, the Farneses’ aviaries.

In any case, the artist’s location, once so popular (Fig.1), no longer exists, as after the excavation of the Roman forum the building must be entered through stairs leading from the ancient Via Nova. Vignola’s erstwhile entrance, whose arch frames this drawing, has been transposed to the Via di San Gregorio and now serves as the entrance to the ancient sites of the Palatine Hill, for whose excavation much of the former garden was sacrificed as well.