View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
The Chigi park, near the town of Ariccia, lies to the south of Rome; a dramatic, wooded landscape, filled with fountains and gorges. Although many artists of this time made studies of the Chigi park, Downman’s concentration upon the tangled roots of an individual tree is unusual, perhaps showing more in common with the intense scrutiny of nature found in works of later artists like the Pre-Raphaelites. It is possible that Downman made this drawing using a ‘camera obscura’ - a form of pinhole camera - which he is known to have employed in at least one other landsape drawing made in Italy.
Gallery label, April 2007