Drawing size: 9” x 13 9/16” (228 x 345 mm); the drawing is in a watercoloured mount (modern) measuring 30 x 42.1 cm
Signed by the artist on the lower right
This landscape, masterfully executed in pen and wash by Louis-Jean Desprez around 1779, probably represents a view of the Roman countryside. The treatment of the trees is very similar to that of two engravings which Desprez executed in Rome, The Island of Cythera and The Temple of Love.
1. Louis-Jean Desprez, a cosmopolitan life between Italy and Sweden
Born in Auxerre in 1743, Louis-Jean Desprez probably began his apprenticeship with the engraver Charles-Nicolas Cochin (1715 - 1790) at the age of 12. He was then trained at the Royal Academy of Architecture where he attended the classes of Jean-François Blondel. After winning the Prix de Rome for architecture in 1776, he was sent to the Académie de Rome and arrived in Rome on 3 September 1777.
He was very quickly employed by the Abbé de Saint-Non to contribute to the illustration of his Voyage Pittoresque. He left with him for Naples, probably in November of 1777, and travelled through southern Italy, Sicily and Malta until 1779, drawing 130 plates for the Voyage Pittoresque.
In 1779, he returned to Rome, and in 1781 joined forces with Francesco Piranesi (1758 - 1810) who produced large etched compositions which Desprez decorated with watercolours. Competing with those produced by Volpato and Ducros, these views, presented as "watercolour drawings" were sold in Piranesi's Roman shop to wealthy tourists on their Grand Tour.
The Swedish king Gustav III, who arrived in Rome on 24 December 1783, met Desprez in his workshop on 23 March 1784 and quickly offered him the directorship of decorations for his royal theatre in Stockholm. Moving to Sweden in 1784, Desprez was entrusted with the supervision of the works of the royal palace of Haga in 1787 and became the first architect of the king in 1788. Only the foundations for this monumental palace were built, the project being abandoned after the assassination of King Gustav III during a masked ball on 29 March 1792. Desprez remained in Sweden after the death of his patron where he built the conservatory of the Botanical Garden of Uppsala and some other buildings.
2. Description of the artwork; related artworks
This drawing probably represents a view of the Roman countryside executed shortly after his move to Rome in 1779. Desprez leads us into a kind of lush Garden of Eden in which the various types of trees (mainly poplars and umbrella pines) are depicted with great finesse.
A group of monks appears in the foreground, while a Romanesque monastery can be seen in the distance. It is difficult to say with certainty whether this is a real place or an imaginary landscape.
The treatment of the trees, which occupy most of the leaf, is typical of Desprez and will be used again in two aquatints executed during his stay in Rome, The Island of Cythera and The Temple of Love, which we reproduce below.
This drawing, presented in a modern watercolour montage inspired by those made by Desprez for the artworks of his Italian period, is thus ready to be framed.
Main bibliographic reference :
Nils Wollin - Original engravings by Desprez - John Kroon Malmö 1933
Delevery information :
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1 300 €