Artist: Filippo Morghen (Italian, 1730–after 1807), after a drawing by Giuseppe Zocchi (Italian, 1711/171767)
Florence: Giuseppe Allegrini, 1744
Etching; Overall: 13 x 20 1/4 x 7/8 in. (33 x 51.5 x 2.3 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1936 (18.104.22.168)
At the center of Tuscan villa culture were the acclaimed, originally sixteenth-century villas of the Medici family in and around Florence. In addition to the Villa La Petraia (157590) and neighboring Villa Castello, the best-known surviving villas of the family are the magnificently situated Villa Medici at Fiesole (1460s), the stately villa at Poggio a Caiano (ca. 1479), and the unusual villa-park at Pratolino (156986). The delightful Villa La Petraia, with its central belvedere overlooking the Arno valley, was built on the spot of an old manor by Bernardo Buontalenti (ca. 1570), architect of the Tuscan Grand Ducal Court. Zocchi's refined drawing, after which the prints were made, shows the hazy atmosphere of villa and garden in the warm light of a Tuscan afternoon. A popular collector's item throughout the eighteenth century, Zocchi's beautiful book invited many an Englishman or other Northern European to visit Italy and not only study but experience firsthand villa life and the art and architecture of Rome and Florence.