Among the Ruins of an Ancient City
  • Consalvo Carelli
  • Arenella, near Naples 1818 - 1900 Naples
  • Among the Ruins of an Ancient City
  • Watercolour over pencil, on paper,
    partly overlaid with gum arabic
  • 209 × 314 mm

Consalvo Carelli was one of the first Italian landscape painters to disavow dry academicism and again work directly from nature. Carelli received his artistic training in Rome and Paris, where he was already entrusted with commissions for the Palais Royale as well as the gallery at Versailles. After the liberation of Italy he at once received commissions from the royal house of Savoy and became drawing master to the queen herself. He created a famous album of 100 drawings and watercolours for Napoleon III and also counted the family of the Russian czar among his loyal clientele.

The first systematic excavation of Pompeii after its destruction in 79 A.D., aside from the work of a few grave robbers under the Bourbons, began in 1860. With these two watercolours, Carelli documented this early phase of archaeology in the environs of his native city of Naples.

Alongside the still overgrown and partially overbuilt ruins of the second image, the first sheet shows a street of monuments and altars excavated down to the ancient pavement. This is likely the Via dei Sepolcri (Street of Tombs), viewed outward from the city at the ancient Porta Ercolano.