JEAN-JOSEPH-XAVIER BIDAULD | VIEW OF THE ISOLA DI SORA
Property from the Collection of J.E. Safra
Carpentras 1758 - 1846 Montmorency
VIEW OF THE ISOLA DI SORA
signed and dated lower left: Bidauld 1789 and inscribed on the reverse of the canvas: Vue de la ville L'isola di Sora
oil on canvas
9½ by 12½ in.; 24.1 by 31.8 cm.
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 28 January 2000, lot 113;
P. Jeromack, "Auction Report: Old Master sales, New York," The Art Newspaper, March 2000, p. 66.
Paris, Galerie René Drouin, Maîtres et Petits Maîtres du XIXe siècle, October 1942, no. 10.
Bidauld first traveled to Italy in 1785 and was encouraged by the marine painter and landscapist Claude-Joseph Vernet to paint en plein air, completing sketches outdoors that could later be worked up into finished paintings. These Italian drawings would serve as the basis for the artist's paintings even after he returned to France in 1790, and the present painting, dated 1789, is emblematic of the Italian views which made him so famous. Bidauld exhibited regularly at the Salon in Paris from 1791 until his death, receiving a gold medal the same year the present picture was painted. In fact, Bidauld was the first artist to be elected to the Académie purely as a landscape painter. At the height of his career, Bidauld's patrons included Napoléon, Louis XVIII, and Charles IV of Spain. At the mention of his name, Corot was reported to have exclaimed:
"Bidauld! Ah! But gently, now , he wasn't just anybody, he was at times truly a master, and one of the finest. Certain of his small canvases are masterpieces, and full of fine example and sound counsel for all of us, young and old alike. I admire and I respect him, since, you see, I owe him a great deal, if not my very best."1
The small town of Isola di Sora in Lazio, depicted here, was a continual source of inspiration for the artist. He painted several works from the same vantage point, including Vue de l'Ile de Sora dans le Royaume de Naples now in the Louvre (inv. no. 2588). It is no wonder the artist enjoyed this view, as it included a number of elements in which he could exhibit his talent: a flowing waterfall, elegant architecture upon which Italy's warm light could fall, a lush landscape, and subtle, undulating mountains in the distance. Stéphane Rouvet, who is currently preparing a catalogue raisonné on the artist in which the present work will be included, believes the painting to be a preparatory study for Bidauld's 1793 salon entry.
1. J. Laurens, La Légende des ateliers. Carpentras, 1901.