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Prints of the Ruins of Emperor Nero's Golden Palace

Pranciškus Smuglevičius (Franciszek Smuglewicz) (1745-1807)
Vincenzo Brenna (1747-1820)
Marco Carloni (1742-1796)
From the album „Vestigia delle terme di Tito e loro interne pitture“
Rome, 1776.
Paper, etching; 59,5 × 69,5 cm
Franciszek Smuglewicz (1745-1807) was one of the most renowned Lithuanian Classical painters. He received his education at the Jesuit College in Warsaw, studying painting under his father, Lukošius Smuglevičius (Łukasz Smuglewicz; 1709-1780), who served as the court painter of Augustus III (1733-1763), the ruler of the Republic of the Two Nations, and Szymon Czechowicz (1689-1775). As a scholarship student of the Polish-Lithuanian ruler Stanislaw August Poniatowski (1764-1795), Smuglewicz pursued further studies at the St. Luke's Academy of Arts in Rome from 1766. He later returned to Warsaw in 1784 and eventually settled in Vilnius in 1797, where he assumed the role of head and professor of the Department of Drawing and Painting at Vilnius University until his passing in 1807.
In the 1770s, the Roman antiquarian Ludovico Mirri (1738-1786) commenced excavations on the site of Emperor Nero's (54-68 AD) former palace. In 1774, he invited Smuglewicz and the architect Vincenzo Brenna (1747-1820) to depict the frescoes of the ancient edifice they uncovered.
During the painting process, missing sections of the frescoes were meticulously restored and based on the artists' drawings, graphic artist Marco Carloni (1742-1796) produced a series of prints, which were subsequently compiled into the album "Vestigia delle terme di Tito e loro interne pitture" (Remains of Tito's Baths and their Interior Paintings) by Mirri in Rome, in 1776. The publication featured a total of 59 mural paintings, along with two additional prints. Smuglewicz contributed 34 individual drawings, while Brenna collaborated on 20 and produced five more independently. The discovery and restoration of frescoes from Nero's famed Domus Aurea (Golden Palace) were later confirmed. The album, including a frontispiece by Smuglewicz depicting a general view of the palace ruins, was showcased at an exhibition in March 1776 at the Vatican, attended by the papal court, cardinals, and prominent European collectors.
The National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania succeeded in acquiring the complete collection of 61 prints from the album "Vestigia delle terme di Tito e loro interne pitture ".
The Lithuanian Council for Culture funded this acquisition.
Information prepared by Dalius Avižinis
Inv. No VR-1203-1263
Acquired from a private individual in 2021
Published:: 2024-05-16 14:08 Modified: 2024-05-16 14:13
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