(Paris, 1815 – Paris, 1891)
The Teverone at Lunghezza ; near Rome
Oil on cnvas
Signed lower left
50 x 100 cm
Exhibition: Salon de Paris de 1888, under the number 194, titled Le Teverone à Lunghezza ; campagne de Rome
Bibliography: Marie-Madeleine Aubrun, catalogue raisonné of the work, Paris 1986, number 196, reproduced page 135
Achille Bénouville is probably the main representative of what could be defined as the third and last generation of neoclassical and / or historical landscape painters, born in the 1810s and 1820s, such as Félix Lanoue, Paul Flandrin, Eugene Ferdinand Buttura or Alfred de Curzon. Pupil of Picot then Leon Cogniet, he quickly specialized in landscape painting, starting with views of the Parisian area he exhibited at the Salon in 1834. He made three short trips to Italy, in 1838, 1840 and 1843, the latter allowing him to share Corot's workshop and friendship in Rome.
After having won the Historical Landscape Award in 1845 (the same year, his brother Leon was awarded the Prix de Rome of painting), he returned to Italy to spend three years at the Villa Medici, then settle in the country until when his wife died in 1870, an event that brought him back to France.
The Teverone, also called Aniene (or Anio), is a affluent of the Tiber about 100 km long. Watering Subiaco, then Vicovaro, his course is calm after crossing Tivoli. Lunghezza is halfway between this last village and Rome. It is today a locality located in the very large Roman suburb, whose castle, built in the Middle Ages, served as headquarters for the German army in Italy during the Second World War.
The site was rarely painted by the artists, and there is also no trace to date in the first two generations of landscapers called neo-classical (Valenciennes, Dunouy, Chauvin, Michallon, Remond, Giroux, Corot ... etc. ). On the other hand, Alfred de Curzon represented Lunghezza (one of his favorite destinations when he was in Italy, he describes the place as "superb but with a detestable air in summer, it is in November that we must stay there") with a painting at the Salon of 1887 (2757 of the booklet), possibly the same he had presented at the Salon of 1884 (number 634). We also know, from the same period (1890) a pretty watercolor (25.5 x 53 cm) of the Italian landscape architect Enrico Coleman (1846 - 1911), with the same point of view as in our table, but taken from the Teverone opposite bank. Finally, there is the painting of Louis Français, Bords du Teverone, evening effect, exhibited at the Salon of 1850.
Regarding Bénouville, he had already represented this region, notably in his painting of the Salon of 1848 (number 275 of the libretto), entitled Lungezza (surroundings of Rome), probably the work of the Louvre Museum (Inv 20588), 1.42 x 2,01 m, then at the Salon of 1864 with a painting titled Lunghezza (number 139 of the booklet), certainly the work today preserved at the museum of Houston (Texas), 1.70 x 2.35 m. The painting of 1864 seems more precisely to represent via Nomentana, and Bénouville exposed a very close view of it at the Salon of 1884 (Via Nomentana, Rome campaign, number 178 of the booklet); the painting of 1848 includes a representation of Lunghezza Castle.
Our painting is reproduced in the illustrated catalog of the Paris Salon of 1888, page 174, but with a wrong title, The edges of the Oise, near Stors (Seine and Oise), corresponding to the second table (not reproduced in the catalog) exhibited by the artist at this show.
Beautifully executed, our painting also exudes a great elegance, with the blue hills of the horizon, the branches and leaves of the tree leaning over the river. No human figures, but white "bufflones", typical of the Roman countryside, are always there to animate this landscape with still wild vitality.
The style is characteristic of the end of Benouville's career, more naturalist than neo-classical, even if the restitution of the intense Italian light remained unchanged in the artist; the evolution, clearly visible when we compare our work with the paintings of 1848 and 1864, is comparable to that of Corot, ranging from neo-classical synthetism to "barbizonian" sensibility. We can thus bring together, in terms of composition and invoice, our table of Aumance, under Chateloy; Hérisson (Allier), 0.89 x 1.32 m, exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1886 (number 174) and that of Toulouse in 1890 (Bords of the Aumance, number 30 of the book), and sold at auction at Drouot (Oger-Semont study) May 19, 2008.
Museums: Louvre, Orsay, Met New York, Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Boston, Nancy, Rennes ...