The Temples of Vesta and of the Sybil in Tivoli: poets’ and painters’ passion

Here are the Temple of Vesta – a famous symbol of Tivoli, Lazio – and the nearby Temple of the Sybil. The former has a round layout and the latter a rectangular one, but both were built around the 2nd century BC and both inspired a number of paintings, especially since the 17th century.

This is how French Romantic writer François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) described his stay in Tivoli to one of his friends:
Returning to my room, I found again the solitude I had left outside. The little terrace, belonging to the inn led to the Temple of Vesta. Painters know that patina of the centuries that time applies to old monuments, which varies with climate: it is there in the Temple of Vesta. You can make the circuit of the little building between the ‘peristyle’ and the ‘cella’, in sixty paces. The true Temple of the Sybil is distinguished from this one by its square shape and the severe style of its architecture.

He then goes on to add: All the Latin poets who visited Tibur (Tivoli) wept on considering the brevity of life. ‘Carpe diem’: seize the day, cried Horace (‘Odes’ I:11); ‘Te spectem suprema mihi cum venerit hora’: Let me gaze on you, when my last hour has come, exclaimed Tibullus (I.1:59). Virgil (‘Georgics’ IV:494) depicts the last hour so: ‘Invalidasque tibi tendens, heu! non tua palmas’: stretching out to you, alas, hands no longer yours. Who has not lost some object of his affections? Who has not seen helpless arms extended toward him?

Let the words of the ancient poets be a wonderful introduction to the lines and colors used by the artists who fell in love with Tivoli.

François-André Vincent, "Il Tempio della Sibilla a Tivoli", 1773, olio su tavola, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marsiglia - "The Temple of Sybil in Tivoli", oil on panel, Marseille

François-André Vincent, "The Temple of Sybil in Tivoli", 1773, oil on panel, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille

Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, "Veduta del tempio della Sibilla sopra la cascata antica", 1750, olio su tela, Hermitage Museum, San Pietroburgo - "View of the temple of Sybil above the old waterfall", oil on canvas, Saint Petersburg

Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, "View of the temple of Sybil above the old waterfall", 1750, oil on canvas, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

Salvator Rosa (attr.), "Le cascate di Tivoli", XVII sec., olio su tela, Accademia di San Luca, Roma - "The Tivoli waterfalls", oil on canvas, Rome

Salvator Rosa (attr.), "The Tivoli waterfalls", 17th century, oil on canvas, Accademia di San Luca, Rome

Cerchia di Abraham Genoels, "Pastorale ai piedi del Tempio della Sibilla di Tivoli", 1700 ca., pittura su tela - "Pastoral at the foot of Tivoli's Temple of the Sybil", painting on canvas

Abraham Genoels's pupils, "Pastoral at the foot of Tivoli's Temple of the Sybil", ca. 1700, painting on canvas

Gaspard Dughet (Il Poussino), "Veduta di Tivoli", XVII sec., olio su tela - "View of Tivoli", oil on canvas

Gaspard Dughet (Il Poussino), "View of Tivoli", 17th century, oil on canvas

Reinhart Johann-Christian, "Vista della Grotta delle Sirene a Tivoli", 1812 ca, olio su tela, Musée Fabre, Montpellier - "View of the SIrens' Grotto in Tivoli", oil on canvas

Reinhart Johann-Christian, "View of the SIrens' Grotto in Tivoli", ca. 1812, oil on canvas, Musée Fabre, Montpellier

Wilson Richard, "Tempio della Sibilla a Tivoli", 1752, olio su tela, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublino - "Temple of the Sybil in Tivoli", oil on canvas

Wilson Richard, "Temple of the Sybil in Tivoli", 1752, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Robert Hubert, "Le cascatelle di Tivoli", 1768, olio su tela, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau - "Tivoli's waterfalls", oil on canvas

Robert Hubert, "Tivoli's waterfalls", 1768, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau

Jan Frans van Bloemen, "Paesaggio con figure e veduta di Tivoli", XVIII sec., olio su tela - "Landscape with figures and a view of Tivoli", 18th century, oil on canvas

Jan Frans van Bloemen, "Landscape with figures and a view of Tivoli", 18th century, oil on canvas

Giambattista Bassi, "Veduta delle cascatelle di Tivoli", 1820 ca, olio su tela, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna, Bologna

Giambattista Bassi, "View of the TIvoli waterfalls", ca. 1820, oil on canvas, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna, Bologna

Jean Baptiste Tierce, "Cascate di Tivoli con cavalieri", XVIII sec., olio su tela, Galleria d'Arte Moderna (Palazzo Pitti), Firenze - "TIvoli waterfalls with knights", 18th century, oil on canvas, Florence

Jean Baptiste Tierce, "TIvoli waterfalls with knights", 18th century, oil on canvas, Galleria d'Arte Moderna (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros, "Tivoli e il Tempio della Sibilla", XVIII d.C., tecnica mista su carta riportata su tela, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Losanna - "Tivoli and the Temple of the Sybil", mixed media on paper and transfered to canvas, Lousanne

Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros, "Tivoli and the Temple of the Sybil", 18th century, mixed media on paper and transfered to canvas, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lousanne

Francis Towne, "Il Tempio della Sibilla, Tivoli", XVIII sec., tecnica mista su carta, British Museum, Londra

Francis Towne, "The Temple of the Sybil, Tivoli",18th century, mixed media on paper, British Museum, London

The Temples of Vesta and of the Sybil in Tivoli: poets’ and painters’ passion

Tivoli (Rm)

WEEKLY POSTCARD

Most Read

Under the starry sky of Val Gardena

by Barbara Palladino A wonderful night in a mountain hut, surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in...

Manifattura Tabacchi: new urban Renaissance

by Barbara PalladinoManifattura Tabacchi is a rationalist industrial complex inaugurated in 1940, opposite the Parco delle Cascine (Cascine Park) in Florence. Once...

Gucci Garden: fashion, luxury and wonder

by Barbara PalladinoLocated in Palazzo della Mercanzia, at the very heart of Florence, Gucci Garden straddles reality and the imagination, summing up...

Anna Fendi’s taste for elegance

by Barbara PalladinoFashion, just like wine, hinges its success on three running themes: passion, excellence and research. These are indeed the three...