Art & People at Mandela
From Horace to Napoleon
The long story of a high site
Salons and Tourers
Mandela is in the Aniene River Valley, famous for the magnificent summer retreats of ancient times, from those of the Roman Emperors, such as Hadrian’s Villa to Villa d’Este, located there because of the proximity with Rome and the cooler temperatures in summer. The Aniene River flows into the Tiber which then flows into Rome.
The parkland and the beautiful views surrounding the castle of Mandela have been consacrated as the ideal landscape by the German painter Jakob Philip Hackert (1737-1807). Hackert’s life has been documented in the "Journey in Italy" and in his biography, both written by Goethe, who had been one of the students of Hackert’s art school in Licenza, near Mandela.
Hackert was already famous at his time for being the expert on the ideal landscape and was considered to be heir of Poussin and Lorrain, masters of the picturesque landscape movement, which inspired the natural romantic or English landscape garden movement in Europe.
After drawing around the Aniene River Valley, especially around Mandela, Sir William Hamilton suggested the King of Naples to summon Hackert as a court painter, where he painted some his most beautiful views. So, asked by the Queen of Naples, Hackert went to the Aniene River Valley and to Mandela (the Aniene River flows into the River Tiber which flows in to Rome) to paint the scenes as a gift to her sister Marie Antoniette of France. The same views were then reproduced in etchings for the King of Sweden, Gustav III, and after their success they where reproduced again in a smaller version.
In the 19th century, Julie Bonaparte, who was Napoleon’s grand niece, and the cousin of Napoleon III, married Alessandro del Gallo di Roccagiovine and became the Marquess of Mandela; she refurbisched the house into a comfortable romantic home to host her literary salon and her intellectual and artist friends on their Grand Tour.
Julie and Alessandro saved the beautiful pastures and the views around the castle celebrated by Hackert and turned them into the landscaped parkland in the romantic or English fashion of the time, without having to make them looking as natural, since it already had all the components, archeological ruins and pretty views naturally in place.