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Domenico Quaglio the Younger

(1786 Munich – 1837 Hohenschwangau)

A View of Orvieto Cathedral. Pencil drawing. 67.9 x 71.4 cm. Signed: „DQuaglio ft“, and inscribed in the artist’s own hand: “Cathedrale in Orvieto”. 1830.

The drawing, impressive enough in terms of its sheer size, is an artistic tour de force! Domenico Quaglio has rendered the architecture of one of Italy’s most important sacred buildings with immense precision and disciplined draughtsmanship. Using a sophisticated and seemingly effortless pencil technique, he has succeeded in capturing with crystal clarity the finest details of the filigreed ornamentation, Gothic gables and pinnacles. Even Lorenzo Maitani’s portal reliefs are clearly recognizable down to the last detail. The cathedral is viewed from a low angle, causing the façade to rise up majestically, thereby effectively accentuating the scale of the imposing structure. A few staffage figures have been casually sketched in to prevent the drawing from appearing excessively rigid, thus giving the whole a lighter, carefree note. Such a masterly and detailed drawing must have taken several days of concentrated work on the spot. The artist will have mounted his sheet on a drawing board, probably using a travelling easel to ensure greater stability. Auxiliary lines have been drawn with a ruler to ensure accuracy of perspective. One can easily imagine the local populace gathering curiously around the industrious draughtsman to see him perform his never-ending task.

An architectural painter, scenographer, etcher and lithographer, Domenico Quaglio was the scion of an artistic family originating from Northern Italy that settled in Munich at the end of the 18th century. Domenico was a pupil of his father Giuseppe and received further artistic training from Carl Ernst Christoph Hess and Joseph Mettenleiter. In 1803/04 he was appointed stage designer at Munich’s Hoftheater. Domenico Quaglio is considered to be the founder of Munich architectural painting and is one of the most important veduta painters of German Romanticism. The present view was probably produced during a trip the artist undertook to Italy in 1830, when he made drawings of around 120 historic buildings with scrupulous accuracy, so that many of his drawings and paintings, quite apart from their artistic merits, also have considerable documentary value for architectural history.

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