Foglia Sabina or A view of Foglia

Foglia Sabina or A view of Foglia by Giovanni Costa, 1826-1903. Before 1893. Signed 'G Costa'; inscribed on verso 'Foglia Sabina'. Oil on panel: 18 1/4 x 30 inches; 46.4 x 76.2 cm.

Commentary by Hilary Morgan

This painting first appeared before the public in 1893 when it was exhibited at the New Gallery, on which occasion the art critic of the Athenaeum wrote enthusiastically: 'View of Foglia is a picture that artists will like. The town clusters close to a hillside against a darkling bluish-grey sky of great pathos and dignity.' In the later years of his career Costa established a pattern of work which involved spending the winter months in Rome while in the summer and autumn of the year he visited different parts of the Italian countryside to paint; it was probably during one of these sojourns that the painting was done. Some uncertainty remains as to the precise location of the view: the River Foglia follows a north-easterly direction through the Marche and joins the Adriatic at Pesaro; it seems most likely that the hiil-town seen in the painting is one of the fortified settlements which overlooks the river, such as Sassocorvaro or Montecalvo in Foglia. More puzzling is the reference in the painting's title of Sabine Mountains, which lie to the north-east of Rome, and with which region Costa had been familiar since the time when he had been forced to leave Rome following the unsuccessful defence of the city against the French in 1849. The title of the painting may be taken to indicate either that Costa recognised in the topography of the Foglia valley something which reminded him of the countryside around Rome, or that the painting represents a place in the Sabine Mountains also called Foglia — although no such place-name appears in the Italian Touring Club guide to the area.

Commentary by Luca Montanarella

Luca Montanarella of the European Commission Joint Research Centre writes from Ispra, Italy, to identify the "location of the represented village of Foglia. The village is in reality located in the Tiber valley 60 km north of Rome and is currently part of the commune of Magliano Sabina in the province of Rieti, Italy. It happens that I'm originally from that village. [11 January 2008]


George Howard 9th Earl of Carlisle; Mrs Elizabeth Fisher; Peter Nahum; Private collection.


London, The New Gallery, 1893, number 185; Paris, Galeric du Luxembourg, 1974, Le Paysage Anglais des Pré-Raphaélltes aux Symbolistes, number 36; London, The Fine Art Society, 1976, The Etruscan School, number 10; Travelling Exhibition 1989: York, City Art Gallery; February 4-March 5 1989, The Etruscans, Painters of the Italian Landscape 1850-1900, number 75; London, Leighton House, March 20 - April 22 1989, number 75; Stoke on Trent, Museum and Art Gallery, April 29-May 28 1989, number 75


Athenaeum, 27 May 1893.

Morgan, Hilary and Nahum, Peter. Burne-Jones, The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Century. London: Peter Nahum, 1989. Catalogue number 143.

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Last modified 11 January 2008