Antoine Claude PONTHUS-CINIER
(Lyon, 1812 – Lyon, 1885)
Panorama of Malleval, Loire
Oil on cardboard
Signed with initials lower right
37 x 25 cm
Ponthus-Cinier belongs to what could be defined as the third (and so to speak last) generation of neo-classical or historic landscapers, born in the years 1810/1820, such as Félix Lanoue, Achille Benouville, Paul Flandrin, Eugène Ferdinand Buttura or Alfred de Curzon. In particular, he is considered to be the main and most popular representative of Lyon-style landscapers around the middle of the 19th century.
With a generous, honest and pleasant company, Ponthus-Cinier came from a family of merchants on his mother's side and magistrates on the father's side; intended for trade by his parents, he preferred the artistic route, and after enrolling at the Lyon School of Fine Arts in 1829, and training in Paris with Paul Delaroche, he exhibited his first works at the Salon de Lyon in 1839 , before participating in that of Paris in 1841.
That same year, he received second prize in Rome for the historic landscape (won by Buttura in 1837, and Benouville in 1845), beaten by the Versaillese Félix-Hippolyte Lanoue. To improve, Ponthus-Cinier then decided to go to Italy, alone and at his expense, for a single stay between 1842 and 1844; he discovered the Ligurian coast, Tuscany, Naples, obviously Rome and its surroundings, and carried out a considerable amount of studies (painted sketches or pen sketches) which served him to compose views of Italy throughout his career.
The main qualities of Ponthus-Cinier probably reside in "the art of lighting a canvas" as A. Jouve wrote in the 19th century, and in his sense of perspective, sometimes really extraordinary; on the other hand, it seems, most of the time, a little less brilliant in the figures and in the transcription of the details.
Malleval is located in the Loire department about fifty kilometers south of Lyon. Small medieval town clinging to a rocky outcrop overlooking the Batalon gorges in the Pilat massif, the village and its castle were mentioned at the end of the 13th century as belonging to the house of Forez.
During the wars of religion, the village will be ravaged and emptied of all its inhabitants.
Ponthus-Cinier offers us here a panorama of Malleval as taken from a long view, the village and its church appearing on the heights going up the gorges of Batalon leaving the Rhone behind us.
We can see on our painting, below the bridge, very probably what is locally called the Laurette jump. It is actually a small waterfall - corresponding to the confluence of the waters of the Épervier stream and the Batalon - which is associated with the following legend:
“A young shepherdess named Lorette refused advances from the local lord. One day, chased by him, she preferred to jump from the top of the waterfall to escape him. The lord on his horse, unable to stop before the cliff also fell. Some claim that Lorette would have been retained by her skirt during her fall, and therefore saved. Others say that all three perished. "
As for the period of execution of our painting, it remains rather difficult to determine it, Ponthus-Cinier having painted the surroundings of Lyon throughout his career from 1840 to 1880. It should however be noted that a Landscape, seen taken in the Forez mountains was exhibited in 1840 in Lyon and then in 1841 when the artist first participated in the Paris Salon, which would suggest that our painting is early in the artist's career. He will no longer exhibit, according to the catalogs of the Salons, views that may correspond to our panorama.
48 000 €