chapter
32 Pages

The Great Motifs

An Introduction
ByChristian Elling

The people who lived in Rome at the time of Bernini's death considered the city a work of art, an epic and a landscape. Rome as an epic is the work of history, a heroic tragedy. The Campagna was an open stretch between the mountains and the city - grazing land and wilderness, folded, furrowed, but nevertheless flat, it went right up to the walls of Rome. Yet that fine man of letters Duclos, who made his way to Rome along the Via Cassia in 1767, even in his day refused to look at the landscape he was passing through and merely wrote down his complaints about squalid inns. Encouraged in the wilderness by such traces of a cultured past, one approached Rome. The Tiber's colours are basic to Rome's palette, sometimes an oily yellow, and then a milky green with the poisonous hue of absinthe.