About this artwork

This painting’s circular composition and evocative Italian landscape are typical of Wals, although somewhat unusually for him, he included two figures in the foreground. Although it is supposed that the figures are Christ and Saint John the Baptist, the lack of any narrative makes this identification uncertain. The figures might possibly be apostles or Christ and Saint Peter. Wals seemed to reject narrative in most of his paintings, concentrating instead on the landscape and the buildings that populate it, as well as the effects of light. In this painting, the building on the far bank of the river may be based on the Tor di Quinto on the Tiber near Rome.

Goffredo Wals

Goffredo Wals

Goffredo Wals was born in Cologne around 1595, but by 1610 he was working in Italy. He visited Naples before studying in Rome alongside Agostino Tassi, one of the teachers of the great landscape painter Claude Lorraine. It is thought that Wals also taught Claude in Naples in the 1620s. Wals travelled around Italy a great deal, but received the most acclaim in Naples, where his small poetic landscapes were popular. Wals is chiefly known for his small circular landscapes on canvas or copper, which powerfully reflect the influence of his compatriot Adam Elsheimer. He is thought to have died in an earthquake in Calabria around 1638.