Completed British 18th C, except portraits, Continental European before 1800 24 Who painted the Cascata delle Marmore?

Topic: Subject or sitter

The Cascata delle Marmore near Terni in southern Umbria were much painted from the middle of the 18th century. Compare the pictures by Thomas Patch, Carlo Labruzzi, George Augustus Wallis and Giovanni Battista Busiri on Art UK, but who painted this version? Is it by a British, Italian or French artist?

Other representations by Turner, Francis Towne and 'Warwick' Smith can be found in the British Museum internet catalogue.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The museum documentation helped to confirm the belief that the painting is by the Flemish landscape artist Jan Frans van Bloemen (1662–1749), or from his studio.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Riccardo Lattuada,

It's by JF van Bloemen! I know of another version in a private collection. The figures are typical of him.

William Thuillier,

Paolo Anesi? I don’t think it’s chocolate-boxy enough to be by Van Bloemen.
William Thuillier

Tim Williams,

From what I can gather, the one that sold at Christie's appears to have been signed Hubert Robert and was attributed to Bloemen on the basis of this work at Doria Pamphilj, which is even more similar to the one under discussion:

It would be interesting to compare the forth version Riccardo alludes to as well.

Jacinto Regalado,

For what it's worth, it looks "chocolate-boxy" enough to me. It vaguely reminded me of Boucher.

Jacinto Regalado,

Actually, to be fair, most of van Bloemen's works are classical landscapes in the vein of Poussin and Dughet and not what I would call chocolate-boxy.

Figure 3 in that piece (which is the Doria Pamphili image also in the RKD link above) and Fig 5 - both by van Bloemen- and the pic in question share the same characteristic way of representing the spray 'rainbow': its sufficiently close to be called 'idiosyncratic'. Pity the Kirklees painting looks like its been under a waterfall -presumably something prosaic like a leaky roof or pipe: good Samaritan needed....

Fig 5 in the article posted by Jacinto may well be the painting in a private collection referred to by Riccardo Lattuada, as it has similar staffage in the foreground. It would be very helpful if Riccardo could post a photo, if he has one. I agree with Pieter van der Merwe that JF Bloemen’s rainbows are distinctive. However, despite the damage to the Kirklees painting, its depiction of the waterfall does seem to be broader and slightly cruder than Bloemen’s. Could the Kirklees painting be by one of Bloemen’s Italian pupils?

Jacinto Regalado,

I think our picture can only safely be listed as after Bloemen, whose works were no doubt copied or imitated.

Kirklees Museums and Galleries,

Due to the current situation access has been limited to our collections but today I have been able to view the painting and our records. There is rather a faded label on the back that reads "Waterfall of Teresi by J Frans von Bloeman. Lent by J.F. Ramsden, November 1922". The Ramsden family are entwined in the history of Huddersfield:
It is listed on our database as 'after Bloemen" but I have no record of how that attribution was arrived at. Sadly the painting has experienced its very own waterfall and is in a very sorry state. As a local authority gallery in the North of England we have little resources for conservation but perhaps this work should be bumped up our list? Particularly with the Ramsden connection.

Tim Williams,

Given the generous size of this painting and differences in foliage etc to the Doria Pamphilj picture, (as well as the limited number of versions extant) it seems (so far) reasonable to suggest it originated from Bloeman's workshop. The poor condition and low res image doesn't help matters. Would you be able to take some close-up images?

I wonder if an internet crowd-funding platform (justgiving etc) might be an avenue in raising funds for restoration - along with a press release to a local rag...

Many thanks for responding to Art Detective’s comments so promptly in these difficult times. Your museum documentation (however faded) seems to confirm our belief that the painting is by the landscape artist Jan Frans van Bloemen (Antwerp 1662 – 1749 Rome), or from his studio. He was mainly active in an around Rome and the waterfall depicted is that near Terni, in Umbria, reportedly the highest man-made waterfall in the world, which was a popular visitor attraction for Grand Tourists and the artists catering to their needs, from the late 17th-century onwards, as it combined ancient Roman engineering with spectacular natural beauty.

Definitely: it never hurts to get a couple of quotes to know what your target might be and what friends you might find to help reach it. Local authorities are too often a dead loss nowadays, even in better times than current, for leadership in these matters especially where things don't tick boxes of immediate electoral self interest: but they can at least give permission for (whatever's left of) local 'curatorship' to make a case and sometimes be persuaded to contribute, if only not to be left out of the 'photo-op' line up when credit is being handed out for final success.

(As a great recent acquistion exception -in which Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils justifiably took credit, and the Norwich Castle Museum team that led - was the acquisition of Turner's early 'Walton Bridges', the first oil be him to enter an East Anglian collection: most of the money (about £3 million) came from the Lottery et al, but with a good local contribution of all sorts.)

In this case the question of 'by or after' van Bloemen would probably become clearer through conservation. It really doesn't matter: it's a good picture to lift the spirits of anyone and a credit to the Ramsden who obtained/ gave it (I assume).

Jacinto Regalado,

Given the undoubted popularity of such a scene with Grand Tour clients, it makes sense that there would have been studio copies, which this picture may be.

Tim Williams,

The high-res images haven't dulled my enthusiasm for this painting. Those horizontal wear lines may allude to it having been rolled up at some point. Anything on the back?

It'll probably cost about £2-4k to have this conserved by someone decent, but definitely worth it.

Louis Musgrove,

Is this painting spattered with white emulsion??. Accident whilst someone painting a ceiling perhaps??? I am amazed how many artists have painted this scene, so very difficult I should imagine to do a positive ID. It does look like Van Bloemen's style ( by looking at his paintings online). The close up of the figures does indicate a nice quality painting- which I hope would deserve cleaning and conservation and a good close look by an expert.

Jacinto Regalado,

Sorry. I just linked to a version linked by Tim at the very beginning.

Martin Hopkinson,

The Cascade of Terni by Van Bloemen was in Russell sale, Fosters, London 18-19 1834 as lot 10 - it was bought in