(1763 Karlsruhe - 1831 Paris)
View of the Saint-Cloud area from the Bellevue terrace in Meudon
Watercolor and gouache
H. 62.5 cm; L. 93.5 cm
Signed and dated lower left - 1819
Exhibition: Salon of 1819, under number 814, titled Vue des environs de Saint-Cloud, prise sur les hauteurs de Bellevue (View of the surroundings of Saint-Cloud, taken from the heights of Bellevue).
Provenance: Certainly Drouot, sale February 1, 1895, Room 10, Old and modern paintings, watercolors, drawings and pastels, CP Paul Chevallier, Expert Féral, catalog no. 132, titled Vue des environs de Saint Cloud, aquarelle.
This superb gouache has come down to us in an astonishingly rare state of freshness, with its original frame and glass.
It features the green/blue palette often used by Melling, as well as remarkable precision in the detail of vegetation and buildings, and excellent topographical accuracy. The artist is standing on the Bellevue plateau, high above Meudon. On the left, you can see the Parc de Saint-Cloud, with the Lanterne de Démosthène (built in 1801 and destroyed by the Prussians in 1870) and the allée de la Balustrade, the Pavillon de Breteuil, and below, a building of the Manufacture de porcelaine de Sèvres. A little further back, the town of Saint-Cloud and its bridge over the Seine, then Mont Valérien (with the building built by Napoleon in 1811 for the orphans of the Legion of Honor at its summit). In the distance, towards the center, we can even make out the Sannois hillock with the silhouettes of its three mills, and on the banks of the Seine what appears to be the Château d'Asnières.
To the right of the Pont de Saint-Cloud, the buildings of the village of Boulogne are quite detailed.
r spending his youth in Strasbourg and studying architecture and mathematics in Klagenfurt, Melling left in 1782 to explore Italy and Egypt, before settling in Constantinople in 1784 as a member of the Russian ambassador's retinue, where he remained until 1802. During these eighteen years, he learned Turkish, blended into local life and became draughtsman and architect to Sultana Hadidgé, sister of the Great Lord Selim III; he produced numerous views, often panoramic, of the city and the Bosphorus, and of festive events. His arrival in Paris in 1802 coincided with his plan to create an album of these Ottoman views, which was not published until 1819, under the title Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople et des rives du Bosphore, comprising 48 engraved plates.
In Paris, Melling became a landscape painter in the service of Empress Josephine, who acquired the first "French" work the artist exhibited at the Salon of 1808, a view of Paris taken from the hill of Chaillot, now conserved at Arenenberg.
At the Salon of 1819, Melling, who had become "peintre paysagiste de la chambre et du cabinet du roi", exhibited other watercolors of similar dimensions to ours, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1817, and depicting the castles of Gosfield and Hartwell, places occupied by Louis XVIII during his exile in England. Both works were hung in the Tuileries Palace.
12 000 €