Cow-Shed and Houses on the Palatine Hill

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.

Key facts

Artist dates
1750 - 1819
Full title
Cow-Shed and Houses on the Palatine Hill
Date made
about 1782-4
Medium and support
Oil on paper laid on canvas
23.1 × 37.8 cm
Acquisition credit
The Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery
Inventory number
Location in Gallery