Rudolf MÜLLER (Basel, 1802 - Roma, 1885)
View of Ariccia
31 x 46.5 centimeters
Signed lower right
Provenance: Horner-Merian collection (Rodolphe Horner, 7, rue Cavour, Geneva); received as a gift from the artist on July 27, 1882
Rudolf Müller is one of the leading Swiss landscape artists specializing in Mediterranean views in the 19th century. Very young (15 years old) he goes regularly in the Swiss Alps with his friend Friedrich Horner (1800-1864), to paint landscapes for the tourists, especially English, and to constitute a nest egg. It is also thanks to the financial support of an English family that the two artists can afford a training trip to Paris, then realize their dream by settling in the Naples area in 1822. They know a great success, before going to settle in Rome in 1835, where they remain 13 years, with for main customers of English and Russian. The delicate political situation forces them to leave Rome in 1848 and return to Basel. In 1864, Müller definitely returns to Rome and gets married there. He rests in the Protestant cemetery of the city.
Wanted above all for his watercolors, which constitute the majority of his work, Müller is part of the tradition of landscapers "vedutists"; but if it respects the topography and the reality of the sites, it gives them a much more idealized and somewhat romantic look. If he keeps all his life a hot and Mediterranean palette, his end of career, about from 1870, is characterized by an almost pointillist touch, well illustrated by our watercolor, which shows a modern evolution of his style.
The city of Ariccia is located about thirty kilometers south-east of Rome, in the Monts Albains, in the same sector as Nemi, Albano and Castel Gandolfo, sites which, like it, was part of the stages of the Grand Tour painters. When the powerful Chigi family headed the city in 1661, she commissioned Bernini to build the church of Santa Maria Assunta, whose dome on the right is recognized, as well as Palazzo Chigi, to the left of the church. The bridge, at the request of Pope Pius IX, was built in 1854: it allowed, in the extension of the Via Appia from Rome, to pass over the valley for easy access to the city built on a rocky outcrop.
The point of view adopted by Rudolf Müller is that often held by artists of previous eras, found for example in Corot in 1826, with obviously the absence of the bridge. In the background is probably the shape of Monte Cavo.