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This view is a pair to Maecenas’ Villa, shown nearby, which Wilson painted in England after his return from Italy in 1756. Both scenes are based closely on pencil sketches he made when he first visited the ancient ruins of Tivoli in around 1752-3. Wilson drew the Emperor Hadrian's Villa, which had once been the most extravagant of all Roman country-palaces, several times. The spectacular site of Tivoli was familiar to all travellers on the Grand Tour through the Roman poets, especially Virgil and Horace. It was also a favourite sketching-ground for artists from the seventeenth century onwards, a tradition which deeply influenced Wilson.

April 2007