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german school

This landscape is mentioned for the first time in the Inventario Fidecommissario of 1833, which ascribed it to Pier Francesco Mola. This attribution was initially accepted by critics; yet beginning with Roberto Longhi, scholars came to believe that the work is by an unknown master of the German school active in the second half of the 18th century.

Object details

seconda metà del secolo XVIII
oil on canvas
cm 31 x 53

late 18th-century frame with pierced acanthus leaf motifs, 43 x 65 x 5 cm


Borghese Collection, first cited in Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 26, no. 4 or 5. Purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1953 Mauro Manca (cleaning)


The canvas depicts a landscape characterised by a cloudy sky, through which rays of sunlight filter to illuminate the centre of the composition, with trees in foreground and mountains in the background. A village perched on a spur of rock is visible on the right, while in the lower left portion we see a horseman moving slowly away from the observer along a path that leads into the background.

Together with another landscape in the Galleria Borghese (inv. 140), also attributed to Pier Francesco Mola, the work in question is most likely part of a dual entry in the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario which reads, ‘Two landscapes by Mola, 2 ½ spans wide, 1 span 5 inches high’. The dimensions given here correspond to those of both of the paintings, which still form part of the Collection. While the attribution made in this inventory was accepted by Giovanni Piancastelli (1891, p. 118) and Adolfo Venturi (1893, p. 98), Roberto Longhi (1928, p. 190) proposed that it was the work of a different foreign artist, perhaps German, who was active in the 18th century. Longhi’s opinion was accepted by Pergola (1959, p. 172). More recently, Kristina Herrmann Fiore published the painting under the name of an ‘unknown master of the second half of the 18th century’ (2006, p. 48).

Pier Ludovico Puddu

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 118;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, pp. 98, 100;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 190;
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 172, n. 252;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p.48.