Artist: Giovanni Franceso Venturini (Italian, active ca. 16501700)
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 (1991.1073.145.3)
One of the most impressive villa and garden ensembles of the Italian Renaissance, the principal building of the Villa d'Este (155072) stands on the summit of the western slopes of the town of Tivoli, seventeen miles east of Rome. Built for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, duke of Ferrara, by the architect-archaeologist Pirro Ligorio (ca. 15101583), the estate is depicted here in its fully matured, slightly overgrown state of the late seventeenth century. Ligorio also drew up the symbolic program for the villa and its garden, focusing on Hercules and the Virtues with direct reference to the owner. Aiming to recreate the grand villa estate of the Roman past, many of the statues and archaeological remains actually were taken from the nearby ancient villa of Emperor Hadrian. The fabled garden of the Villa d'Este, still today renowned for its lavish waterworks, extends downward from the steep terraces behind the house to the lower garden area down in the valley. Demonstrating the ever-changing beauty of villas and gardens through the ages, the playful water jets along the Pathway of the Hundred Fountains are romantically embedded in a thick layer of moss, hiding the remains of sculpted reliefs depicting scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses.