This is a beautiful example of Dughet's landscape drawing. The immediacy of its execution suggests it was drawn directly from life, and the masterly use of wash makes a more energetic and lively impression than some of his more pedantic chalk studies. The bold use of chalk with the extensive use of brown wash can be compared to other studies by the artist, for instance a view of the Roman campagna, in the British Museum (inv. no.1895-9-15-981; see Marco Chiarini, Gaspard Dughet, Paris 1990, no. 6, reproduced). Also in many ways comparable is another drawing of a very similar small, late medieval town, first attributed to Dughet by John Shearman, where the use of wash plays a similar role in defining the geometry of the buildings (Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, inv. no. RL6140; see Chiarini, op.cit., no. 22, reproduced).
The spontaneity and immediacy of the execution in the present study lend credence to Baldinucci's account in his Notizie de' Professori del Disegno (Florence, 1728), of how Dughet made drawings of this type from nature. Filippo Baldinucci (circa 1624-1696), the earliest and most invaluable biographer of Dughet, gives us an informative account of the artist's formation and career. According to Baldinucci, Dughet loved drawing from an early age, and when his elder sister married Nicolas Poussin, Dughet seized the chance to train under the great master. Poussin recognized his predilection for landscapes and directed him to draw from nature. Gaspard subsequently kept various houses - in Tivoli, in Frascati and in two other locations around Rome - where he could go to draw and paint from nature. His reputation as a landscape painter grew, and he soon became known as Gaspard Poussin, or Gasparo Possino, in recognition of the fact that he was both Poussin's brother-in-law and his disciple.
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