The collection, which dates from 1666, brings together Baroque engravings representing Rome at the time of Pope Alexander VII. The album is unique since the artist was the only one of his time to make views of the city and also because this is the only complete edition of the work. There are two other sets, namely in the USA (at the Getty Museum) and in the Vatican.
After being trained in Leuven, the Ghent architect-artist-engraver Lieven Cruyl (1640-1720) went to Rome where he contributed to the development of the vedute, or city views, an art form that reached its zenith in the 18th century. Cruyl’s drawings reproduce the topographical aspects of the urban landscape. Cruyl had a particular passion for uncommon and complex perspectives (which accentuate the scientific construction of his drawings). However, his views also show an idealised city. Not only do they illustrate the city as perceived by its visitors; they also combine this perception with an idealized representation of the popes’ intervention in these city landscapes.
In addition to Lieven Cruyl’s drawings, the album contains more singular perspectives of Rome, including a panoramic view by the French engraver Dominique Barrière (1622-1678) and an extraordinary representation of the Piazza Navona by G.B. Falda.
The Foundation was able to acquire this masterpiece in New York. It has now entrusted it to the University of Ghent Library, where it completes both the “Roman collection” and the Gandvensia collection (works printed in Ghent or by Ghent artists). The work will be studied as part of the University’s History of Art and the Architecture programmes and will further knowledge about Lieven Cruyl and his contribution to the growth of vedute.