Son of the sculptor Claude Michallon (1751-1799), Achille Etna joined the studio of Jean-Victor Bertin (1767-1842). Following his advices, he focused on nature before soon escaping the formal rigour of the neoclassical landscape, and favouring the atmospheric charm of the places he depicted.
Winner of the first edition of the Prize for historic Landscape in 1817, Michallon went to Italy where he stayed until 1821. This work, which represents the "Cascatelle delle Marmore", one of the most famous places in central Italy near Terni, belongs to this fertile period. During his journey in Italy from 1818 to 1821, Michallon was inspired by tormented and mountainous landscapes. He represented a pristine nature, and was passionate about studies on light and water effects. He went to key places, such as Tivoli, but also to Terni, Naples, Sicily, and the Alps as he came back to France (see the catalogue of the exhibition Achille-Etna Michallon, Musée du Louvre, Paris 1994, p. 127).
The "Cascatelle delle Marmore" is an artificial waterfall created by the Romans. Its 165 meters high make it the highest waterfall created by man.
The musée du Louvre keeps many views of waterfalls or torrents, and in 1822, Michallon exhibited a Cascade in Tivoli in Lille, and a Waterfall in Douai. A similar work, measuring 29 by 38 centimetres and dated 1822 is mentioned in the article by, Blandine Lesage (Achille-Etna Michallon, Catalogue de l'œuvre peint, in Gazette de Beaux-Arts, October 1997 p. 134, n°70).
We would like to thank Mrs. Blandine Lesage for kindly confirming the authenticity of this work based on a photograph. She will include the painting in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné.
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