The importance of Olevano Romano in European landscape painting in Lazio
Volume curated by Monica Di Gregorio
Olevano Romano is a testament to beauty. It is a sprawling monument in which every single detail that forms the whole gives back a fragment of history, from the remains of the polygonal walls that encircle the historic centre, to the medieval tower and the Colonna Castle, both located on the highest point of the hill in a defensive and dominant position, surrounded by alleys and lanes that can only be explored on foot.
The signs of modern urbanisation have not affected these places. On the contrary, they have retained much of their rare and unspoilt charm that aroused much awe during the 19th century, especially amongst travellers and artists from beyond the Alps.
The Olevano Romano Art Museum shares all of this with us. It is the embodiment and expression of the beauty of the town that hosts it and to which it is dedicated. Housed in the historic ‘Villa de Pisa’, it boasts an important collection of more than two thousand works including oils, watercolours, drawings, sketches and engravings that the AMO Association (Friends of the Olevano Museum) has collected over approximately thirty years of research and study. The works document the evolution of a tradition, starting from the early 19th century, that saw Olevano Romano as the focal point of numerous foreign artists who frequented these places for a considerable time, attracted to such an extent by the beauty of the landscape and the authenticity of the local customs and traditions that they left an indelible memory of it in their works. Indeed, there are numerous landscape paintings and views of the village today conserved in a number of major European museums. The widespread presence of such artefacts, even in foreign institutions, confirms the importance of Olevano Romano in the history of European landscape painting – a theme to which the museum is dedicated, among other things – and confirms that this area was a fundamental stop on the Grand Tour routes, even before its discovery by northern European artists at the beginning of the 19th century. As part of a System project that has the landscape as its leitmotif, the conference that we are documenting with this notebook provides an opportunity to retrace the steps of this museum experience, and allows us to give due recognition to those who have contributed to the creation and maintenance of the museum in a fundamental way. It is also an important opportunity to remember scholars such as Domenico Riccardi, whose extensive research work has led to the ‘mapping’ of the numerous works depicting Olevano and its territory which are now preserved in the museums of major European cities. By following clues, documents, and graphic and pictorial evidence scattered all over Europe, research has not only allowed the specific identification of the places depicted, but has also often provided encouraging results in terms of attributions and chronological collocations of the works.
The publications that gather this wealth of knowledge, therefore, indicate the signs and paths to follow in research that is constantly evolving, and that may yet have new and unexpected surprises in store.
Dr Monica Di Gregorio
Director of the Olevano Museum