For nineteenth-century travellers to Rome, an excursion to the surrounding region—the Campagna, situated between
the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennines—was a must. In the town of Tivoli, the great waterfall in the park of the Villa Gregoriana had already been attracting artists since the eighteenth century. They usually concentrated on staging the breathtaking natural scenery in interplay with the remains of ancient culture. Robert Macpherson, a surgeon by training, focussed solely on the plunging water, complete with the bright reflections off the mist it causes. Whereas the light on the cliffs at the left brings out their rugged surface structure in all precision, the dense vegetation to the right of the waterfall remains in the dark. The oval shape heightens the image’s poetic effect and draws all the more attention to the motif.