Height : 25 cm
Large : 34,7 cm
Period mount (45 x 35, 5 cm), with the mounter’s mark ARD (L.172)
Annotated higher left: « ferme de Villepecle dessiné par J.G. Wille 1784 », in pen and brown ink.
After a brief armory workmanship in his native city, young Wille learns copper engraving in Strasbourg with Johan Georg Schmidt, who takes him to Paris in 1736, where he will be briefly Diderot’s neighbor , and work for a while with Nicolas de Largillière as copist, before turning to interpretation print, following the advice of Hyacinthe Rigaud. He will reproduce contemporary as well as old masters, and his fame will extend to the courts of Europe: Frédéric II of Prussia, Frédéric V of Denmark, and mostly Louis XV. Naturalised French in 1758, he enters the Académie in 1761. Napoléon will make him chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, and he enters the Institut. He will die blind and poor (the Révolution confiscated his possessions, including his collection of works of art).
Member of a Masonic lodge, he is the center of a social network for artists and curieux of the German area together with his activity of translator, journalist, and his vast correspondence.
He wrote a diary published in 1857, in which we read that having decided to go to Montcerf (Brie area) to draw the ruins of Becoiseau castle, he departs with some friends on August 17, and that arrived in Corbeil, he met one of his nephews called Desforges, who invited them to dine and sleep by him in Villepecle (Wille writes Villepesle) for the night. Some eight days later, the group comes back to Paris. The artist quotes in his diary: « n’ayant rapporté, pour ma part, que cinq dessins, dont quatre faits dans les ruines de Becoiseau » ( « I brought only five drawings, of which four from Becoiseau ruins » ; two of these drawings are identified, one belonging to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, 1978-516-2, the other to the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, KdZ 7387).
The farm is what remains of the medieval castle of Villepècle(city of Lieusaint, Seine -et- Marne), of various periods (the basements of walls and towers seem to be fourteenth century), slightly different from Wille’s drawing.