Ponte Sant’Angelo painting

Monday, December 28th, 2020

Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome – by Becky DiMattia
oil on 14×18″ canvas

As with so many of my paintings, this one is a sweet memory of a beautiful moment and a beautiful scene. Our honeymoon in 2012 started with 3 days in Rome, and our 3 days started and ended at Ponte Sant’Angelo, the Bridge of Angels, which connects Rome to Vatican City. That trip was my 7th visit to the Eternal City, it was my husband’s first, and I loved seeing my favorite city fresh through his eyes. The very first thing we did in Rome (after a long nap), was take a cab to Ponte Sant’Angelo, one of my favorite places in Rome (my blog post from our first day in Rome, October 2012). We took in the incredible views across the bridge towards Rome, and down the main avenue towards St. Peter’s Cathedral, we got a start towards the cathedral and the Vatican Museums, and then, a downpour! After the rain cleared, we had an incredible evening visiting the Vatican Museums at night, a rare treat to see the galleries in a different light after seeing them 6 times before.

We had an incredible 3 days wandering around Rome, and on our last day (my blog post from our third day in Rome, including the original photos for this painting), our wanderings brought us back to Ponte Sant’Angelo. On a clear bright late afternoon, we got to take some wonderful photos from the bridge, recalling the start of our journey a few days before, and one of them eventually became this painting.

It took some time to rediscover this image in my memories and my files. I love painting images of sculptures, and I started this painting in March 2015 as just a painting of the angel, with just the very top of the pedestal. It was satisfying to paint the curves and the swoops of the wings and the drapery, but it stayed unfinished for years, until I finally decided that it was missing something that I loved about that moment … the view just beyond the angel to St. Peter’s Cathedral.

I started a second version (this one below) in September 2017, when I was about 7 months pregnant, and predictably, I got distracted. It’s hard to find time to paint with a baby, and I chipped away at this piece here and there over the next few years, painting and repainting, trying to get at the essence of what I love so much about this image, until I finally decided this week, in December 2020, that I had already finished this painting. I had struggled with the exact tone of the backlit sculpture, his exact stance, the exact configuration of the receding clouds, and I could never get it perfect. It’s still not perfect, but I decided that I love the way this painting glows in my painting corner next to our front windows, in the white lights that we hang around those windows to bring light to the dark winter months … and it’s done! And it only took 8 years! Some moments are worth capturing, even if it takes a really long time.

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