Search results

Start typing

The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection

A collection of the finest Italian works in the Royal Collection with an examination of the passionate collecting of Italian art by the British court.

LODEWIJK TOEPUT (C. 1550-C. 1605)

Pleasure Garden with a Maze

c. 1579-1584

RCIN 402610

This is probably one of the earliest paintings to enter the Royal Collection. It seems to have been purchased in Venice, along with work by other Italian artists, for the Earl of Somerset and sent to London in early 1615. When Somerset was disgraced later that year the king seized his goods, including this picture, which depicts a fantastical view of a maze set in a wild landscape. To the left musicians and lovers revel on a barge whilst on the right food is about to be served beneath an arbour. A stag-hunt is underway in the centre background with a circular temple beyond and a distant view of the Piazzetta di San Marco to the right. The painting seems to celebrate the pleasures of life: food, music and dancing. The painting is described as 'Venetian Pastime in the Island of St George' in Charles II's inventory - a suggestion made by someone who knew Venice well, since the little view of the Piazzetta in the upper right corner is quite accurate. However the rest of the landscape is pure fantasy. The barge to the left provides valuable evidence of Venetian festivals already well established by the mid-sixteenth century.

    The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.