Lot 144
  • 144

Théodore Géricault

Estimate
150,000 - 200,000 GBP
Sold
854,500 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Théodore Géricault
  • Vue de la colline de Montmartre  - recto
    Combat d'une Amazone et d'un Lapithe, d'après Montfaucon - verso
  • brush and ink wash, pencil, gouache and gum arabic on paper - recto
    black chalk - verso

Provenance

L.J.A. Coutan, Paris (1779-1830)
Thence by descent (with the 'Coutan-Hauguet-Schubert-Milliet' collection stamp lower left, Lugt 464); (sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 16th-17th December 1889, lot 180)
M. Gérard (purchased at the above sale)
Otto Ackermann, Paris (acquired by 1912)
Hans E. Bühler, Winterthur (1893-1967; possibly acquired in 1942)
Estate of the above (sale: Christie's, London, Théodore Géricault, The Hans E Bühler Collection, 15th November 1985, lot 49)
Purchased at the above sale by the late owner

Exhibited

Berlin, Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Géricault, 1907, no. 17
Munich, Galerie Zimmermann, Empire und Romantik, 1909
Rouen, Millénaire normand, 1911
St-Petersburg, Centenaire de l'Art français, 1912, no. 274, illustrated in the catalogue
Basel, Dessins français, 1935
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Der Unbekannte Winterthurer Privatbesitz, 1942, no. 350                 
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Théodore Géricault 1791-1824, 1953, no. 148
New York, Jan Krugier Gallery & Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, Victor Hugo and The Romantic Vision, Drawings and Watercolors, 1990-91, no. 57, illustrated in the catalogue
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Géricault's Heroic Landscapes, The Times of Day, 1990-91, no. 4, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Paris, Grand Palais, Géricault, 1991-92, no. 155, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz,  Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 74, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, 1999, no. 87, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 102, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La Passion du Dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 91, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Vienna, Albertina, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 20, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 87, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Julius Meier-Graefe, Delacroix und Gericault. Faksimiles, Munich, 1919, illustrated pl. 2 
Otto Grautoff, 'Théodore Géricault, zum 100. Todestag', in Die Kunst für alle, February 1924, illustrated p. 134
Pierre Dubaut, Peter Nathan, Sammlung Hans E. Bühler: Géricault, 1791 - 1824, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Winterthur, 1956, no. 52, catalogued & the recto illustrated
Lorenz Eitner, Géricault, an Album of Drawings in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1960, mentioned p. 31
V.N. Prokofiev, Théodore Géricault, 1791-1824, Moscow, 1963, illustrated p. 210
G. Bush, 'Kopien von Theodore Géricault nach Alten Meistern', in Pantheon, May-June 1967, cited p. 184, n. 19
Lorenz Eitner, Géricault, His Life and Work, London, 1983, illustrated p. 42, fig. 28
Pierre Miquel, Art et Argent, Maurs-la-Jolie, 1987, vol. VI, illustrated p. 223
Gary Tinterow, 'The Times of the Day', in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 1990-91, illustrated p. 41
Germain Bazin, Théodore Géricault, Etude critique, documents et catalogue raisonné,  Paris, 1987, vol. II, no. 247, catalogued and the verso illustrated p. 406; mentioned pp. 281-283; Paris, 1992, vol. V, no. 1710, mentioned p. 76; catalogued and illustrated pp. 230-231
Bernard Noel, Géricault, Paris, 1991, illustrated p. 90

Catalogue Note

On the recto of the present sheet Géricault profiles the quirky roof line of his local neighbourhood in Montmartre against a translucent blue sky. To the far left is one of the quartier's distinctive windmills; in the middle is the T-shaped form of the Chappe telegraph that perches on the tower of the local church of St Pierre. To the right of the composition the sizeable wings of the nearby lime works provide a geometric foil to the rhythmic undulations of the shrubs and trees that run along the edge of an old quarry, one of the many 'terrains-vagues' of the locality that was then on the outskirts of Paris. 

Géricault had moved with his father to Montmartre from rue Michodière in 1813. Now living on the outskirts of Paris they were able to enjoy a more spacious dwelling. Their new house, at 23 rue des Martyrs, had once been an inn. It lay among a cluster of comfortable suburban dwellings, separated from one another by enclosed gardens. In a detached building behind their house Géricault was able to set up his first make-shift painting studio. 

The combination of the dramatic back-lighting that silhouettes the buildings against the broad sweeping brush strokes of the watercolour in the sky, the gleam of the sun as it glances off the tops of the foliage, and articulates both the lime works on the right and the quarry face lower centre, and Géricault's low vantage point makes for a theatrical composition.   

In style and execution Bazin compares the present work to a similarly dramatic work in sepia wash in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Besançon (Bazin, vol. V, no. 1710) in which Géricault also employed a striking use of contrasting tonalities, and where the central scene is also back lit. With regard to the specific view, Bazin notes that the windmills on the Butte de Montmartre were viewable from the Géricaults' new apartment, referencing the existence of a pencil and wash drawing in a private collection that describes this view (Bazin, vol. V, no. 1709). In addition Bazin records a pen and ink and wash sketch of a similar view on a sheet of studies of lions in the Musée de l'Ecole Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

The windmill, the Chappe semaphore arm, and the lime works all anchor the present composition in time and place. Windmills were a distinctive feature of the area, perfectly placed at the edge of town and on the elevated 'butte' to provide milled grain for the growing metropolis. Likewise the lime works supplied the raw materials for the building trade as the population of Paris burgeoned and construction grew. And between them both the placement of the Chappe telegraph, a relatively new invention, that benefited from Montmartre's high ground. Devised by Claude Chappe in the late eighteenth century, and developed with the help of his four brothers, this novel system of semaphores that carried messages the length and breadth of the country proved highly effective and eventually covered the whole of France. 

Géricault's inclusion of such motifs within the present composition offers an interesting alternative to how we have come to view Montmartre through the prism of art history. Later in the century it would be more often described by its night clubs and cabarets than its technical advancements, or, in the case of Van Gogh by its relative poverty. True, when Géricault moved there he became a neighbour with his old acquaintance, fellow painter Horace Vernet. But despite that, or possibly because of it, he defined his surroundings in reassuringly bourgeois terms.  

In stark contrast, the verso of the present work depicts a scene from the antique. Bazin describes it as a copy after an engraving of an ancient monument, then in Vienna, that was illustrated in Antiquité expliqué by Bernard de Montfaucon (vol. IV, pl. 72). Montfaucon (1655-1741) published fifteen volumes of his magnus opus between 1719 and 1724.    

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