JACOB MORE (1740-1793)
A VIEW OF ROCCAGIOVINE, NEAR LICENZA
Signed beneath mount l.r.
Bears title to mount, A View of Roca Giovine [sic]
Watercolour with pen & ink
35 x 49.5 cm
Private collection, France
We are grateful to Dr Patricia Andrew for her generous assistance in cataloguing this work and for confirming the attribution on the basis of digital images. This rediscovered work was not featured in Dr Andrew's checklist of works by More; however, there are several further depictions of Roccagiovine by the artist, including one which was formerly with James Mackinnon and Spink & Co. (1)
The present work is closely comparable to a further view of Roccagiovine (taken from a different perspective and worked up from a drawing by More and Allan Ramsay now in the National Libraries of Scotland), and another of Licenza, both in the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (acc. nos. RSA 355 & D4938). These watercolours are part of a series of views made by More around the site of Horace's villa, outside Rome, which also include a squared watercolour study for the former view in the National Gallery of Scotland, housed in the National Library of Scotland (entitled An Enquiry into the Situation and Circumstances of Horace's Sabine Villa); a watercolour of Horace's Villa in the British Museum, London (acc. no. 1870,1210.237); A View Near the Mill Looking Toward Licenza: Horace's Villa on the Left, Yale Centre for British Art, CN (acc. no. B1977.14.5766); and a sketchbook relating to the project by both More & Ramsay in the YCBA (repr. in the photographic archive, PA-F03158).
More's fellow-Scotsman and friend, the artist Allan Ramsay, had begun to turn from artistic pursuits towards his archaeological interests in this period, and had begun searching for the lost villa of the great Roman poet Horace. This was his main priority when he returned to Italy again in 1775-7, though they had occupied him from the 1750s on and off, and he supervised archaeological excavations on and around the site of Horace's Villa, which he hoped to one day publish with accompanying illustrations. Jacob More was asked to provide detailed drawings of the site and its surroundings, which were to be used as the basis for these engraved illustrations in Ramsay’s publication. (2) (3)
Jacob More, who came to be known as 'More of Rome', was born in Edinburgh, where he was first apprenticed to a goldsmith. He worked next for James Norie's company of housepainters, and during this period found time to paint a series of Scottish landscapes, which were exhibited to acclaim in London in 1771. More settled in Rome in c.1773, and would spend the rest of his relatively short life in the city. He became one of the leading British artists established in the city, along with his friends Thomas Jones, John 'Warwick' Smith, Allan Ramsay and various other compatriots within the large colony of expatriate British artists active in the city.
More continued to exhibit in Britain, sending his paintings back for the Royal Academy shows in the 1780s, and earned a reputation at home as one of the finest painters of landscapes on the continent. With this critical success came considerable commercial success, which did inevitably have an effect on the quality of these later works: like so many artists, the demand for the types of paintings he had earned his name with led to More producing 'increasingly large, repetitive and hastily-executed canvasses to satisfy an insatiable public demand for his paintings' (4). More was also one of a number of artists who acted as buying-agents for Grand Tourists, negotiating the sale of Italian Old Masters to wealthy British patrons who had often already commissioned works from him alongside these.
(1) We are grateful to James Mackinnon for confirming that the present work is not the one which he previously handled in 1976 but is similar in its execution.
(2) Patricia Andrew, 'Illustrating Horace’s Villa: Allan Ramsay, Jacob More and Jakob Philipp Hackert', Chapter 5 in Allan Ramsay and the Search for Horace's Villa (eds. Frischer & Brown), London (2001)
(3) James Holloway, 'Two Projects to Illustrate Allan Ramsay's Treatise on Horace's Sabine Villa', in Master Drawings, vol. 14, no. 3
(4) Patricia Andrew, Jacob More 1740 - 1793 (PhD Thesis), University of Edinburgh (1981), Abstract