price: U.S. $6,000


San Sebastian Curone (near Alessandria) 1758 — 1823 Rome

Landscape with Waterfall and Traveler

back chalk underdrawing, brush and light brown wash. 11 7/8 x 8 1/2" (300 x 210mm). numbered u/r: 50. partial watermark: top of a fleur-de-lis.

private collection, Italy (legally exported)

This is one of several landscapes I have seen from the same sketchbook, and it is the most interesting. Gianni was a prolific draftsman, filling many sketchbooks throughout his life.

He had a penchant for placing the figures in his landscapes very much in the foreground, sometime at the very bottom of the drawn sheet such as can be seen here. Even when he was supplying the figures for another painter's work, he placed those figures very low in the composition. This peculiarity is however not unique. One need only glance through the paintings and drawings of Johann Philip Hackert to see the same proclivity.

Giani studied in Pavia and then in Bologna under Ubaldo Gandolfi before moving to Rome in 1780. There his interest in ancient art developed and he energetically studied Raphael's Vatican Loggie as well as being influenced by Northern artists such as Sergel, Fuseli and Flaxman who had recently been active in Rome.

His masterpiece is said to be the decorations of Palazzo Altieri in Rome, although he participated in the interior decorations of the Villa Borghese and the Palazzo Chigi. Both during and after Napoleon's regime, he worked at a frenetic pace in Neoclassical style decorating aristocratic palaces.