From an album of drawings by della Bella assembled in the early 19th century, formerly in the collection of the 1st Earl of Gainsborough;
by descent to his daughter, who married the 9th Earl of Southesk, Master of Kinnaird, then preserved in the Kinnard Castle library;
the album dispersed in 1946, and the drawings sold individually through the Arcade Gallery, London;
Dr. and Mrs.Victor Bloch;
their sale, London, Sotheby's, 19 November 1963, lot 85;
Alfred Brod, London
This view of the Pantheon can be dated before 1657, when Pope Alexander VII Chigi (1655-1667) began to effect some of the changes necessary to rehabilitate the square and the façade of the Pantheon and their surroundings. Since the Middle Ages the gradual expansion of buildings to the east side of the portico of the Pantheon, visible in this drawing, had reduced the preeminent role of this important monument in relation to the square. During the pontificate of Urban VIII Barberini (1623-1644), Maderno had added the twin towers (often wrongly thought to be by Bernini, demolished in 1883), also visible here, to replace the medieval campanile. In March 1657 the botteghe of the merchants were confined to spaces indicated by new travertine lines set in the ground.1 A few months later the Pope ordered the demolition of the buildings attached to the Pantheon's portico as well as of the houses to the east, starting a renovation which was intended to improve the appearance of the Piazza della Rotonda.
There are two other known versions, with small differences, of this composition, one in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm,2 the other in the Beaux-Arts Museum, Besançon.3 Both appear to be less detailed in the architecture of the various buildings, including the Pantheon, and there are changes particularly in the figures in the middle ground. The Stockholm sheet bears an inscription: SD Bella 1656. Della Bella is supposed to have made his last visit to Rome between 1650-1651, but he published four engraved views of Rome and two of the Roman campagna in 1656 (De Vesme 832-837). A view of the Pantheon by della Bella, with a different grouping of vendors and staffage, was sold Paris, Christie's, 23 March 2006, lot 223.
1. Although not a lasting solution, in 1662 the square was cleared of stalls and booths and the market was officially transferred to Piazza di Pietra
2. Inv. no. NMH 191/1863; see Per Bjurström et al., Drawings in Swedish Public Collections, 8. Italian Drawings. Florence, Siena, Modena, Bologna, Stockholm 2002, no. 1123, reproduced
3. Walter Vitzthum, 'Expositions, Drawings from Stockholm', Revue de l'Art, 1969, no. 5, p. 93, no. 31, reproduced p. 92, fig. 4
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