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Old Views of the Site

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I.A. Jacob More, "View near Horace's Villa," watercolor on paper, National Gallery of Scotland, D1417, 34.50 x 53.20 cm. On the black and white version below, you can see an identification of the villa and of nearby sites. More's watercolor is extremely valuable to us today because it shows the state of the Licenza valley in the 1770s with almost photographic clarity and detail. We note that the Colle Rotondo is practically deforested, and that, apart from the Castagneto (a property for centuries mainly owned by the Licenza parish church), the fields in the lower valley are farmed with small plants (possibly vines). Higher up the valley, the fields are unplanted (at least at the time of year when More made his picture). Roccagiovine is little more than the Orsini castle, and this accords with the records of officials who report that the town was virtually uninhabited in the eighteenth century. Very few buildings dot the landscape. Two of interest are the small building between the river and the Castagneto to the left of center of the middle ground. This is probably the Mola di Licenza, and behind this is the collecting basin, the ruins of which still survive. The larger building at the bottom right is probably the Molino of the property Vigna La Corte; this is still extant and is illustrated above, left. Joining these two structures is the dirt Via Licinese, which was not to be paved until the twentieth century. Click here to learn more about More's drawings.




II. Jacob Philipp Hackert, Carte generale de la partie de la Sabine où etoit située la Maison de Campagne d'Horace (1780). Hackert's beautiful and still useful map is drawn at a scale of 1:27,000. Click here to learn more about Hackert's map and related engravings of the Licenza Valley.

Left, below: detail of relief map from Vicovaro to Roccagiovine Right, below: detail of relief map from Roccagiovine to Civitella


III. Carlo Labruzzi, "Il Fonte sopra la Villa Oraziana," ink and watercolor, cm. 38.2 x 54.4 (ca. 1790). Labruzzi lived from 1747 to 1817. He is known for his life studies of the countryside around Rome in the manner of J. P. Hackert. In this work, Labruzzi shows the fountain near Horace's Villa, with Civitella and Licenza visible in the background. The fountain in question may be the Nymphaeum of the Orsini, which is about 200 meters directly west of the site identified now and in Labruzzi's day as Horace's estate. On the stone in the foreground are inscribed verses 12-13 of Epistles I.16 ("fons etiam rivo dare nomen ideoneus, ut nec / frigidior Thracam nec purior amb iat Hebrus"). Click here to learn more about Labruzzi's views of the Licenza Valley.




IV. J(ohn) Smith, W. Byrne, J. Edwards, Select Views in Italy, with Topographical and Historical Descriptions, in English and French (London 1816), plate 36: "Villa of Horace, drawn by J. Smith and engraved by J. Emes." The accompanying text states that the villa was at the foot of Mt. Lucretilis and below Licenza (in the center of the engraving); no visible remains survive.


V. James Duffield Harding , "Licenza from the spot where formerly stood Horace's Villa" (London, ca. 1833). Size: 13.25 x 8.70 cm. The exact site illustrated by Harding is hard to locate today. It would appear to be lower down the slope of Colle Rotondo, near the bank of the Licenza River. On the other hand, the arch standing in the middle ground on the left could be ancient. The position of the drawing appears similar to that in Smith's engraving above (III), although we are placed higher up the slopes of the Colle Rotondo.





VI.W. Havell, F. W. Topham, The Valley of Licenza, in which stood the Villa of Horace, engraving, 9 x 2.5 cm. The view is on the Via Licinese to the south of Licenza. No view of the villa itself is seen. William Havell (1782-1857) visited Italy in 1828-29. The engraver Francis William Topham (1808-1829) started his career in Leeds in 1829, then became active as a book engraver in London. The sketch on which this view is based may therefore go back to 1828/29; we do not know exactly when it was published.


VII. Charles-Joseph Hullmandel (1789-1850), published by Mcqueen & Co. The view is of the Via Licinese, with Licenza and Civitella in the background.


VIII. Anon., photography of Horace's Villa, ca. 1855, from Joannis Bond, Qvinti Horatii Flacci opera... 47 x 76 mm. Source: Rijksmuseum-Stichting Amsterdam, inv. RP-F-F25514-E, neg. nummer: 3465913x18cm. This is the earliest photograph purporting to illustrate the villa. It actually shows the Colle del Poetello at nearby Rocca Giovine, which owing to the theories of Pietro Rosa in the mid-19th century was erroneously thought to be the site of Horace's Villa. Rosa (a distinguished archaeologist of the day, who, among other things, excavated on the Palatine) misunderstand the meaning of "poetello" in the local dialect. He thought it meant "poet," but we now know it means "well." At any rate, the photograph is interesting for showing us how important Horace's Villa was considered in the period of early photography. In fact, it has been said that this is the first photographic illustration ever published in a book. The view is from north to south toward the Anio valley and the mountain town of Saracinesco. In the foreground we see "the artificial terrace where some bricks lying on the ground indicate the location of an ancient Roman house."


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