Baroness X. Amazon in Top Hat by a Pond
Alfred de DREUX
(Paris 1810 - id. 1860)
Alfred de Dreux, who studied under Léon Cogniet and was a fervent admirer of Delacroix, also had close ties with Théodore Géricault, whose equestrian paintings had a decisive influence on his works. In 1831, de Dreux exhibited Intérieur d’écurie (Interior of a Stable) at the Salon in Paris, which immediately earned him a reputation among collectors and critics alike. He was thus taken in by the French and British nobility, who appreciated the elegance of his works. He counted the Duke of Orléans, the Duke of Aumale and Queen Victoria among his patrons. In 1840, he began his famous series of portraits of horses from the renowned stables of the Duke of Orléans. This Parisian dandy, a chronicler of the hunt, of officers on horseback, of races and elegant riding habits, thereby became one of the most prominent figures in society under Louis-Philippe I and Napoleon III.
Following the Revolution of 1848, he followed a defeated Louis-Philippe to Claremont (Surrey) in England. There, he gained popularity among the English aristocracy, for whom he painted a number of equestrian portraits. In 1852, upon his return to Paris, he opened his atelier at 26 rue de Douai, where he completed a number of equestrian portraits of the family and inner circle of Napoleon III. He returned frequently to England.
A landscape with the Alban hills and Monte Cavo
(Antwerp 1755 - Naples 1813)
Simon Denis studied in Antwerp, his native city, under the landscape painter H.-J. Antonissen. In the early 1780s he moved to Paris where he enjoyed the patronage of Jean-Baptiste Lebrun, the genre painter and art dealer. With Lebrun’s support, he travelled to Rome in 1786.
His work soon attracted public attention. In 1787, a lengthy article praising one of his landscapes appeared in one of the leading art periodicals of the day, Giornale per le Belle Arti. The article highlights his ability to render effects of light and his convincing observation of detail. Deciding to settle in Italy, he married a local woman. He maintained close ties with the Flemish community in Rome and was elected a member of the Fondation St.-Julien-des-Flamands in 1789. He also moved in French artistic circles. The celebrated French portrait painter Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun stayed with him for several days in 1789. Together, they made an excursion to Tivoli in the company of François Ménageot, director of the French Academy in Rome. Painters like François-Marius Granet, Martin Verstappen and C.J. Hendrik Voogd sought him out to study his working methods.
He enjoyed a burgeoning reputation from the early 1790s until his death in 1813. In 1803, he was elected to the Academy of St. Luke in Rome. Writing to Goethe in 1805, August von Schlegel cited Denis as one of the best landscape painters working in Rome. Schlegel shared this conviction with other men of letters and a number of well-known artists. Around 1800, Denis settled in Naples, succeeding Jakob Philipp Hackert as court painter. In 1806 he was appointed court painter to the newly installed King of Naples, Joseph Bonaparte.
In his large-format landscapes, topographical accuracy was not always a priority. He frequently rearranged the prominent characteristics of the landscape or architectural setting to create his own idealized landscapes. A striking feature of the present work, painted while he was in Rome, is the distinctive silhouette of Monte Cavo. This is one of the highest points in the Alban Hills. It is located near Lake Albano in Lazio, south-east of Rome. These paintings, highly finished and executed with great attention to detail, are stylistically close to works by Jean-Joseph-Xavier Bidauld, Nicolas Didier Boguet and Jean-Victor Bertin.
Self-portrait with pipe
(Naples 1820 - Möllhorst 1851)
Ink and watercolour on paper
Dalgas was born to Danish parents in Napels, Italy, where his father was a Danish consul and merchant. He took courses at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen starting in 1837, and became a private student of Eckersberg’s. He was a part of several exhibitions hosted by the Academy in Charlottenborg between 1843 and 1848. In the spring of 1848, he enlisted in the Danish army to fight in the Schleswig-Holstein War. In the three years that followed, he was able to complete a series of drawings and watercolors. On one of the last days of the war he was fatally injured. The promising talent of Dalgas is best preserved in his animal paintings. He was strongly influenced by the 17th century Dutch painters.
This drawing is a self-portrait: Dalgas portrays himself in uniform, smoking a long pipe. Another portrait of Dalgas in uniform was done by Peter Christian Skovgaard at around the same time.
Old buildings in moonlight
Johan Christian DAHL
(Bergen 1788 - Dresde 1857)
Johan Christian Dahl had already completed his training as a landscape painter when he left his native Norway for Copenhagen in 1811 to enter the Copenhagen Academy of Fine Arts. A pupil of C. A. Lorentzen, his main interests lay in seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painting and in the study of Eckersberg’s views of Rome. In 1818, he set out on a Grand Tour. One of his stops was Dresden, where he moved in artistic circles and met the celebrated German painter Caspar David Friedrich. In the summer of 1820 he travelled to Rome and Naples, returning in 1821 to settle permanently in Dresden. From 1823 onwards he lived in the same house as C.D. Friedrich. He was one of three outstanding Dresden painters of the period – the others being C.D. Friedrich and Carl Gustav Carus. The three exerted a decisive influence on German Romantic painting.
Dahl became especially well-known for paintings of view with striking visual characteristics and an interesting, enveloping atmosphere. Cities and scenes bathed in moonlight – a subject of symbolic interest for many Northern Romantic painters – were of particular interest to Dahl, who was equally fascinated by the technical challenges of representing different elements seen and unified by the light of the moon.
The Orchard near Mantes
(Paris 1796 - Ville-d'Avray 1875)
Corot was taught by the famous landscape painters Achille-Etna Michallon and Jean-Victor Bertin, and went on to lead an illustrious career as a landscape artist in his own right. Although he was a devoted student of paysage historique, and deeply attached to the teachings of his masters, Corot led a modernist movement of the 1830s and 1840s known as the Barbizon school. Unlike their neoclassical predecessors, Corot and his followers sought in their native France the same inspiration that their teachers had found in Italy. He introduced both realism and naturalism into landscape painting and started a modern landscape tradition in France. Corot’s art alone bridges the world of Neoclassicism to that of Impressionism. He is regarded as the central figure of 19th century plein-air painting.
The Velino above the Cascade of Terni
(Paris 1796 - Ville-d'Avray 1875)
This open-air study of a rushing stream dates from Corot’s first stay in Italy. Corot had left France in the fall of 1825, together with Johann Carl Behr, another student of Bertin. They arrived in Rome in December of 1825. In the spring of 1826, they left the city to practice outdoor painting in the countryside. They spent August and September in Papigni and Narni (Robaut, 1905, vol. I, p. 36-37), about a hundred kilometres north of Rome. This site was known for its huge waterfall constructed in the Roman period, called the Marmore Falls (Cascade of Terni). The Romans had canalized the stagnant waters of the Velino to fall into the Nera river. According to Robaut , Corot has painted this study sitting besides the Lake of Papigno which the Velino river flows into just before the falls. (Robaut, 1905, vol. II, p. 46, no. 128 : Robaut dates the picture of 1826 and his title is “Le Velino à la sortie du Lac de Papigno”.)
As part of his classical training as a landscape painter, Corot spent most of his time in Italy drawing and painting outdoors. Robaut recorded more than 150 small landscape paintings from this period. These small studies were not meant to be shown to public. As advocated by the theoretician Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819), their primary purpose was to establish the principal tones of the sky, earth, and water through the lighting of the landscape at a particular moment. They generally did not serve as compositional models for particular paintings. Rather, they would be idealized by classically trained painters in landscapes produced entirely in the studio.
Upon returning to France, Corot followed the established practice of displaying his landscape studies in his studio, as sources of inspiration and instruction. This remained a life-long habit and Corot apparently valued his early studies very highly. Robaut recorded an episode of the early 1870s in which Corot admonished a young painter for spending so much time copying Corot’s latest studies, saying “Because, in the end, one learns nothing from those, whereas with my old studies it’s something else again.” (Alfred Robaut, Documents sur Corot, vol. II, p. 85.)
According to Robaut, Corot has kept the present study in his studio until a few months before his death. Its subject is quite outstanding in Corot’s oeuvre, who was rather a painter of silent waters. This powerful study shows the inherent qualities of a sketch, namely the lively effect produced by its energetic brushwork, vibrant colours, and bold contrasts. Its format of the closely cropped detail of the river reveals an impressive freedom of organization. It is a somewhat abstract study of rushing waters, a vibrant and truthful rendition of nature. With good reason, Corot was regarded as a precursor to the Impressionists for his outdoor painting.