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Paesaggio con rovine

Ryssen Cornelis van

(active in the second half of the 17th century)

This work on copper is described in the various inventories, part of a pendant piece with the Landscape with Christ Tempted by the Devil (inv. 476), both attributed to a certain 'Cornelio Satiro', identified by critics as Cornelis van Ryssen, a painter from Flanders who once had contact with the Bentvueghels group in Rome, from whom he obviously took his nickname. 

The scene shows a group of men, including one on horseback, portrayed entirely immersed in a landscape dominated by a large ruined building covered with thick vegetation. The medium of copper, which makes the colours clearer and glossier, refers directly to the Nordic context, from which the painter came.


Object details

1667 circa
Oil on copper
cm 12 x 15

19th century frame (element of a polyptych), 81 x 26 x 4.3 cm.


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room XI, ns. 83-84; Della Pergola 1959); Inv. 1790, room VII, no. 13; Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 29, no. 72; purchased by the Italian State, 1902.


This painting is mentioned in the Borghese Collection since 1693, listed in the inventory alongside Landscape with Christ Tempted by Satan (inv. 476), which was however attributed by critics to a different artist, very close to the manner of Jan Brueghel the Elder (Della Pergola 1959). Like Landscape with Erminia meeting the Shepherds (inv. 283) and Landscape with Erminia recognised by the Shepherds (inv. 289), this copper plate was also attributed to “Cornelio Satiro,” an artist identified by Paola della Pergola (1959) with Cornelis van Ryssen (Poelenburg of van Ryssen according to Orbaan 1911), a Flemish painter who is known to have been in Rome in 1667, when he joined the Bentvueghels (see Della Pergola, cit.).

In 1891 this painting and the other landscapes were attributed to the Bolognese artist Ludovico Mattioli (Piancastelli 1891), an ascription that was changed to Herman van Swanevelt by Adolfo Venturi (1893) and Roberto Longhi (1928), though this attribution was rejected by Paola della Pergola, who in 1959 referred the work to Van Ryssen.

This painting depicts a classical landscape, dominated by the ruins of a building covered in thick vegetation. At the centre, a man on horseback seems to be trying to reach the mysterious figure depicted in the foreground, sitting in the shade of a tree. As in the other two copper plates (inv. 283, 289), the scene is constructed on different planes – a classical building in the background, a landscape on the right, a clearing in the foreground – connected to one another by a meandering path that forces the viewer’s gaze to observe the various corners of the composition.        

The ascription of this painting to Van Ryssen’s catalogue was confirmed in 2006 by Kristina Herrmann Fiore.

Antonio Iommelli

  • X. Barbier de Montault, Les Musées et Galeries de Rome, Rome 1870, p. 356; 
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 216; 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 215; 
  • J.A. Rusconi, La Villa, il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Bergamo 1906, p. 91; 
  • J.A.F. Orbaan, Bescheiden in Italie omtrent Nederländsche Kunstenaars en Geleerden, I, Gravenhage 1911, p. 245; 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 223; 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, pp. 186-187, n. 278; 
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (I), in “Arte Antica e Moderna”, XXVI, 1964, n. 154; 
  • 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. 153.