The Rome Scholarship 2012 – Recipients and Finalists

2012 Recipient – Naomi Grant

The 2012 RBA Rome Scholar was Naomi Grant who has written a short account of her stay:

In the weeks leading up to my departure for Rome, I had a clear sense of the sort of paintings I wanted to make. I had been schooled in the rhetoric of pure observation and had been looking at the early works of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I imagined myself setting up an easel on the Palatine hill or outside the walls of the Farnese gardens and working, as Corot had, nearly two hundred years ago.

My actual experience at the British School complicated my thinking in ways I could not have anticipated. I visited the Borghese gardens every day and sat and drew and painted but nothing worked. Corot had been able capture the distinctive warmth and character of the Italian light but I seemed unable to achieve its peculiar intensity. Scale, too, proved challenging. The pine trees which populate the ruins of the city functioned (or should have functioned) as a kind of staffage but I could not work out how to use them as cleverly as Corot and his contemporaries had done and I was aware that my pictures lacked the structural intelligence of the works I so admired.

The opportunity to see the Villa Livia frescoes in the Palazzo Massimo proved something of a turning point. I was excited to see so many different forms of perception at work in a single image; acts of acute empirical observation were allied to imagined, constructed spaces. A trip to the Archaelogical Museum in Naples brought me into contact with the sheer breadth and range of Roman art for the first time. I was attracted by the intimacy of the still life works which prompted me to think more carefully about the role of construction, invention and memory in the images of the painters I most respected.

Returning to London has allowed me to continue my engagement with both Roman art and nineteenth-century landscape painting. Corot’s works seem all the more elusive and beautiful for my visit; they are at once intuitive and considered, observed and invented. I am truly grateful to the RBA for such an enriching opportunity. “.

Some of the works produced are shown below…