The houses and the long, open cow-shed stand in front of a grander, ancient Roman arcade erected in the second century by Septimius Severus. Brilliant sunlight falls from upper right onto the façade of the house, and dapples the roof of the shed. Valenciennes captures the complicated play of bands of lighter and darker shadows under the eaves of the shed and on the ground in the forecourt. He made a similar pen-and-wash drawing of the same scene inscribed 'à la villa neron' (at Nero's villa) in one of his sketchbooks, now in the Louvre, Paris.
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