Arch of Janus, Rome Italy - Original early 19th-century engraving print


An original early 19th-century engraving print, Arch of Janus, Rome Italy.

A beautiful hand-coloured engraving, with the inscription ‘Arco di Giano.’ The Arch of Janus in Rome was built on a crossroads, and is unusual in having four equal faces. Its name comes from this: the Roman god Janus was sometimes depicted with four faces.

In good condition for its age. Adhesive marks on verso, and some age toning, as shown.
7.3cm x 11.8cm.

This work comes from an intriguing album inscribed ‘Margaret Chisholm Landreth, 21st December 1831’ [the inscription is not included with the work]. The album contains an eclectic mixture of original watercolours and hand-coloured engravings. They are by a variety of different hands, but all of them are finely executed.

Margaret Landreth seems to have travelled a great deal: a large number of the images in our collection are the small, portable pictures, showing popular visitor attractions, which were produced in large numbers for travellers on the Grand Tour of Europe. Many of these take the form of vedute, or Italian landscape paintings, which had emerged as a genre in the eighteenth century. The British fascination with travel to Italy – in search of inspiration, enlightenment and adventure – continued well into the Victorian period, and Rome and Milan (which feature prominently in this collection) were among the most popular Italian destinations.

Vedute functioned rather like postcards, helping travellers to remember the places they had visited, and show others where they had been. Whether they take the form of watercolour or gouache paintings or (as many here) hand-coloured engravings, vedute from the first half of the 19th century all tend to share the same vibrant colours, with blue skies and evocations of Italian sunshine. Clearly though, Italy was not the only country that Margaret Landreth travelled to. There are scenes from Switzerland and also Scotland, where both of her parents had originally come from. All of these places would have been unfamiliar to Margaret Landreth, though – she was raised in Grenada in the West Indies, where her father (who was a soldier, ending up as a Colonel in the 94th Regiment) was stationed.

Other pictures in the album include flower studies, and a number of engravings showing the heroines who feature in British poems, which were very popular in the 1830s. Taken together, the works in our collection represent the long-standing tradition of the Grand Tour to southern Europe, and they embody the early-nineteenth century fashion of album-making, as a way of keeping pictures and curios together. 

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Product code: JG-648

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