The 3 x 4ft (93cm x 1.2m) oil on canvas showing the famous waterfalls and the cliff top village and ancient ruins is signed Joseph Vernet f on one of the rocks to the lower left.
It was painted in 1753, the year that the artist returned to France after 20 years in Italy when he was at the height of his career and just before he embarked on his famous Ports of France series for the French Crown.
Tivoli was a popular subject for many artists and one that Vernet painted often, returning to Tivoli many times during his stay in Italy to paint and draw the scene.
Vernet has exercised a degree of artistic licence with the topographical accuracy of the view, adding elements from another Italian location, the city of Spoleto, to enhance the drama and picturesque quality of the scene.
We know the exact details of the commission of this particular painting: it was recorded in Vernet’s account books as being painted for a ‘M Regni’ (François Régny became consul of Genoa in 1856) who paid 90 livres for the work with its pendant landscape. Both were engraved by Pietro Martini in the 1770s.
The two paintings subsequently entered the collection of a Monsieur Leboeuf who sold them in 1783. They then entered the collections of François Antoine Robit, then that of the Duc de Berry, before the two works were separated when the Duc sold part of his collection in 1837 and the view of Tivoli was purchased by a M Hazard.
It is next recorded as being sold on December 20, 1871, by a M X Pittet. The buyer appears to be a M Alexandre Rennes, for 4000 francs, and then in a French private collection.
When it goes under the hammer in Sotheby’s sale of paintings, drawings and sculpture from 1300-1900 it will have an estimate of €600,000-800,000.