George Inness (American, 1825–1894)
Oil on canvas; 78 3/4 x 118 1/2 in. (200 x 301 cm)
Gift of Lyman G. Bloomingdale, 1898 (98.16)
The Villa Barberini is located on the outskirts of the town of Castel Gandolfo, southeast of Rome. A popular haunt of nineteenth-century landscape painters, the town overlooks Lago Albano, visible here through the trees. The artist’s division of the composition into two nearly equal parts—dark, solid earth and light, empty sky—is unusual. It may point to his interest in the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), which possibly inspired him to seek order and balance in nature. The tallest tree, rising elegantly above its neighbors, was built up with heavy impasto, and then stippled with a stiff brush. The effect is pronounced, and the foliage projects noticeably from the surface.