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A View of Paestum

A View of Paestum, c. 1759

Antonio Joli
Italian, 1700-1777
Oil on canvas
30-3/16 x 47-3/4 in. (76.7 x 121.3 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Antonio Joli’s talent as a reportorial view painter was honed through an itinerant practice that took him from Rome to London. In the 1750s, he returned to southern Italy to paint the sites for European visitors on the Grand Tour as well as local patrons.

This depiction of Paestum and the surrounding countryside displays Joli’s sensitivity to aerial perspective, as seen in the diaphanous rays of the rising sun, appearing on the eastern horizon. In the shadowed foreground, visitors walk the trails leading to the ruins. Clusters of travelers, some on horseback, approach the temples. To fend off the plateau’s malaria-carrying mosquitos, two guides carry lit, smoking torches. Paestum’s well-preserved Doric-style structures attracted architects from all over Europe. From the left, the temples of Athena, Poseidon and Hera stand within the walls of the ancient town.

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