Artist: Giovanni Battista Falda (Italian, ca. 16401678)
Rome: Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, 1691
Etching; Overall: 11 x 15 7/8 x 1 5/16 in. (27.9 x 40.4 x 3.4 cm)
Gift of D. W. Langton, transferred from the Library (1991.1073.145.18)
The Villa Mondragone belongs to one of the most impressive, still surviving villa estates laid out at Frascati. Situated on an imposing terrace against the northwestern slope of the ancient Tusculum Hill, it enjoyed breathtaking vistas of the Roman countryside. The owners, first Cardinal Altemps and then, from 1613 onward, Scipione Borghese, derived their prestige from the villa's architectural improvements, paid for, in part, by profits from their agricultural undertakings. One of the central features, overlooking the private garden, or giardino segreto, with its boxwood parterres, was the water theater, which still survives in a slightly dilapidated form. Built for Cardinal Scipione Borghese by the Roman architect Giovanni Vansanzio (Jan van Zanten) in ca. 1618, this semicircular structure is reminiscent in form and decoration of Carlo Maderno's water theater at the Villa Aldobrandini.