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Press Release

Carlo Labruzzi: The Grand Tour

Dickinson, 58 Jermyn Street, London

11 June – 13 July 2012

  • Dickinson, in association with Bill Thomson, are delighted to announce an exhibition of watercolours by Italian Grand Tour artist Carlo Labruzzi (1748-1817).
  • Curated by Sir Timothy Clifford, former Director of the National Gallery of Scotland, this is the largest and finest group of works by the artist to come on the market in a generation and the first exhibition in London dedicated to his work since
  • The exhibition consists of over forty drawings and watercolours of Rome, the Roman Campagna, Naples, Venice and other Italian views and sketches which are taken from two albums compiled by the artist and acquired from his widow in 1818 by Lord Wharncliffe (1776-1845). The albums later passed by family descent to 7th Earl Fitzwilliam and were later sold from Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, in 1948.
  • Labruzzi’s watercolours are rare, and for this number to be offered on the market is unprecedented. His delightfully fresh drawings, clearly made ‘en plein air’, anticipate the Impressionists approach by a century.  His work can be found in the British Museum, Vatican Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Stourhead and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Timothy Clifford, curator of the exhibition, states: “We tend not to think of Italian artists as masters of watercolour, yet Carlo Labruzzi, landscape painter to the grandest of grand tourists, was greatly admired in his own day. With this exhibition of rarely seen drawings and watercolours, his virtuosity will be as much admired today.”

Simon Dickinson states: “In 1779 Lord Herbert remarked that the three greatest foreign artists working in Rome were Hackert, Batoni and Labruzzi. This exhibition shows why Labruzzi was so highly regarded, and re-establishes his reputation as one of the pre-eminent artists working in Rome at the end of the 18th century.”

 Exhibition Information

The exhibition is a selling exhibition and will take place at Dickinson, 58 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX.

11 June – 13 July 2012, Monday – Friday, 10am – 5.30pm; or by appointment.

A catalogue will be published in advance of the exhibition.


Tel: +44 (0) 20 7493 0340


Carlo Labruzzi (Rome 1748- 1817 Perugia)

Carlo Labruzzi was an artist and topographical draughtsman of the first rank, who constituted a serious rival to other such foreign topographers as Busiri, Clérisseu, Ducros, Lusieri and Vanvitelli – all active in Italy at this time.  Labruzzi was largely forgotten in Britain until an album of a hundred of his drawings was broken up and sold in an exhibition (9 June-16 July 1960 at 71 New Bond Street, London).  Put on by the late John Manning, and entitled Carlo Labruzzi: An Exhibition of Fine Water Colour Drawings of the Appian Way, it was accompanied by a catalogue with an introduction written by Sir Francis Watson, Director of The Wallace Collection and Surveyor of the Queen’s Works of Art.

Carlo Labruzzi was born in Rome, the son of Giuseppe, a weaver. Little is known of his early life. He was initially intended for the Church but trained as a painter and engraver, spending a time at Nuremburg and returning in 1780/81 when he was admitted to the Congregazione dei Virtuosi al Pantheon.  Like Thomas Patch he may have spent sometime in the studio of Claude-Joseph Vernet. At some time before this he appears to have left Rome to work for the Russian and Polish courts.  His pictures can be found at Pavlosk near St Petersburg and at Willanou and Potecki, near Warsaw.

Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838) of Stourhead, the historian of Wiltshire and inveterate antiquarian, made a series of visits to Italy between 1785 and 1798, purchasing furniture, antiquities and paintings.  In 1789 he conceived of making a trip that would follow the ancient Roman Via Appia from Rome to Brindisi, a long and arduous journey. Labruzzi was chosen as his artist and companion. One hundred of the drawings made for Colt Hoare were offered for sale by Manning in London in 1960 and some of those, that were bought by Denys Oppé, are now in the Tate Gallery, London (exhibition: The Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century, Tate Gallery, 10 October 1966 – 5 January 1967) More are in the British Museum.  It is also known that the artist retained an album of the less resolved drawings from this journey.  Further landscapes by the artist are in the Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican, the Biblioteca Sarti of the Accademia di S. Luca, Rome and the British School in Rome (Thomas Ashby Collection).  The Accademia di Belle Arti “Pietro Vannucci” which also possesses a good small collection.  When he died, at his packed funeral he received a splendid oration at San Domenico Perugia, 1817.