Palazzo Colonna, Olevano Romano
Vilhelm Petersen (1812-1880)

Palazzo Colonna, Olevano Romano, 1852

Oil on paper laid down on panel., H. 0.18 m; W. 0.24 m

Dated, located and signed lower right: 4 Juni Olevano / VP 1852.

Provenance: Private collection.

Until the 1980s, Petersen was a nearly forgotten painter, but today he is considered an important member of the Danish Golden age and his works are compared to artists like Th. Lundbye, P.C. Skovgaard and Vilhelm Kyhn.

He studied at the Academy of Art in Copenhagen from 1831 to 1838. He was taught there by two of its most famous teachers, Christopher Wilhelm Eckersberg and Johan Ludvig Lund. Petersen excelled in producing intimate, naturalistic studies of everyday subjects. In his numerous plein air sketches of the Danish landscape, he was especially fascinated by the interplay of light when the sea meets the sky.

He obtained a scholarship from the Academy and travelled via Germany and Austria to Italy, where he stayed from 1850 to 1852. He found it so inspirational that he tried to prolong his stay there by writing to the Academy pleading for more money. As the funds were not forthcoming, he had to return home at the end of 1852. In Copenhagen, Petersen became a teacher of drawing and geometry at the Mariboe school, and also taught in various private homes. In the summer months he continued to paint en plein air. He got married quite late, in 1864, and had a daughter. He exhibited his landscapes at the Academy shows at Charlottenborg, nearly every year from 1833 to 1875.

This painting portrays the Palazzo Colonna in Olevano Romano, a medieval town 60 kilometres east of Rome where numerous artists came to find inspiration, and were seduced by the beautiful landscapes. The Palazzo Baronale depicted here belonged to the Colonna family, and later to the Borghese family. Its the last owner, Camillo Borghese, married Paolina Bonaparte, Napoleon\’s sister. Probably painted on the spot, it reflects the sensitivity of the artist and his interest in continuously varying light.