This painting was another in the small series of canvases I completed in 2007 based on imagery seen during a trip to France two years previous. Considered a companion piece to the painting "Twilight at Glanum" (see previous post), the work depicts another Roman ruin, the ancient aqueduct at Barbegal.
Thought to have been constructed in the 1st century AD, these ruins were part of a water system linked to a large flour mill complex located about 7.5 miles north of Arles. The aqueduct funneled water from the Alpilles Mountains to an expansive and fertile valley region that served as the bread-basket for Arles, then an important Roman city called Arelate. (For more information on this system, visit http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/barbegal/).
My traveling companions and I chanced upon the site while driving north from Arles on our way to Glanum and Saint-Remy-de-Provence. A small road marker indicated the turnoff to the aqueduct, and after following a winding country road a few kilometers, the ruins appeared on the right. The site is remote, unrestored and rises in the middle of existing farmlands. An overgrown dirt path, free of interpretive markers of any kind, hugs the stone wall of arches until it ends at a drop-off that overlooks the valley below.
For the painting, I chose to depict the ruins in a Romantic vein with an improvised sky filled with dramatic lighting indicative of sunset. I made some subtle changes to the architecture of the ruins to heighten the atmosphere, but for the most part the painting is a faithful depiction of the complex. Like "Twilight at Glanum," this canvas will be included in my upcoming solo exhibition at the Jordan Hall Arts Center in April 2009.
"Aqueduct Ruins." Oil on stretched canvas, 30 x 40 inches. Completed in October 2007.