Jaques Louis David


Jaques-Louis Davis

Paris 1748-1825 Brussels



Landscape with Houses on the right and on the left, a Church behind a group of Trees.

Pen and black ink and point of the brush and grey wash over traces of black chalk.
173 x 261 mm (6 7/8 x 10 1/4 in.)

Provenance: Included in the posthumous inventory of Madame David, dated 27 June 1826: ‘Douze grands livres contenant des dessins & des calques Etudes de M. David en Italie …’, in folio 17; by descent to Eugène and Jules David (L.839) and (L.1437); the artist’s studio sale, Paris 17 April 1826, part of lot 66, an album: ‘Douze grands livres de croquis composes d’études d’après l’antique, de paysages,Presque tous sites d’Italie, et de calques..’ (unsold); the Second David sale, Paris, 11 March 1835, part of lot 16, an album: ‘Douze grands volumes in-folio… provenant de la vente faite après le décès de ce célèbre artiste’. (unsold); sale, Paris, 4-5 April 1836, part of lot 164; Monsieur Chassagnoles, Paris; Jules David, Paris in 1882; marquis et marquise de Ludre, Paris; by descent to marquise du Lau d’Allemans and to comtesse de Chaumont-Quitry, Versailles; sale, Galerie Charpentier, 15 March 1956, part of lot 11 (not listed by P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat,  see Literature; the album purchased intact by Germain Seligman (L.3863 and his additional stamp: A10 (not in Lugt), the album was then photographed and dismembered and the drawings sold individually by Jacques Seligmann and Co., New York, the present work was included in the catalogue Master Drawings, 1959, lot 10; Mrs Douglas Williams, Long Island; Private collection, New York.

Literature:  A. Cantaloube, ‘Les dessins de Louis David’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, September 1860, p.285, note 1 (the album); R. Cantinelli, Jacques-Louis David, Paris-Brussels, 1930, p.120 (the album); Calvet-Sérullaz, ‘Un album de croquis inédits de Jacque-Louis David’, Revue de l’Art, no.5, 1969, p.68, note 4 (the album); S. A. Nash, The Drawings of Jacques-Louis David: selected problems, doctoral thesis, Stanford University, 1973, p.201, note75A (the album); A. Sérullaz, David e Roma, exhib. cat., Rome, Académie de France, Villa Medici, 1981, pp.58, 66 and 70, fig.24;  A Sérullaz,  David, exhib. cat., Paris, Grand Palais, 1989, pp.70-71, fig.38; Agnes Mongan, David to Corot, French Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge-London1996, p.36 (the album); P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, Jacques Louis David 1748-1825, Catalogue raisonné des dessins, Milan 2002, p. 673 and p.700, no.1079 – (17a.)

A note attached to the preceding lot in the 1826 sale catalogue of David’s posthumous sale (see Provenance, op. cit), concluded with the words: ‘These landscapes and the many others which adorn the sketchbooks, prove how a painter, so excellent in the historical genre, is also ready to capture and then render the beauties of landscape. These perfectly classical drawings are of the greatest interest ..1 Indeed this sheet, as with others of its kind, has the air of having been done for pleasure and illustrates David’s sensitive response to Rome and its Campagna. Dating from the sojourn of 1774-1780, and employing a painterly use of wash, like other foreign artists working in the Eternal City, David demonstrated an interest in capturing the sense of light, more specifically sunlight and shade and his landscapes have qualities both of restraint and luminosity.  

David’s individual Roman studies were carefully transferred into a number of albums, owned by his widow and then their two sons, before being included in the studio sale of 1826. The specific album folio to which this sheet was attached also contained an unusual black chalk view of a mountainous landscape and two rough pencil sketches of Roman monuments: the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Capitoline2; all three of these latter drawings are now in the collection of the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Some of the Roman and Campagna views are thought to be capricci, loosely based on certain monuments and landmarks. The present drawing, however, has the appearance of an actual view, probably taken from the outskirts of Rome or a small town in the region.


1. See Rosenberg and Prat, op. cit., p.772, under cat 1244, from lot 65 of the David sale ‘Ces paysages et beaucoup d’autres qui ornent les livres de croquis, prouvent combine un peintre supérieure dans le genre historique, est propre à saisir et à render les beauties du paysage. Ces dessins parfaitement classiques sont du plus grand intérêt.
2. See, Rosenberg and Prat, ibid., (nos. 1080 (17b), 1081 (17c) and 1082 (17d).

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