Category Archives: Featured Artwork

Whose Orient is it anyway?

These paintings were executed by two non-French artists, who both studied in Paris, under the French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, known for his history paintings and frequently Orientalist subject matter. Would it be possible to distinguish between them, based on the information that one of these painters was in fact Ottoman?

osman-hamdi-bey-reciting-the-quran-c-1900

ferraris

osman_hamdi_bey_-_arzuhalci__public_scribe_-_google_art_project

Image captions:

  1. Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910), Reciting the Quran, undated, oil on canvas, 72.5 x 53 cm, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Istanbul
  2. Arthur von Ferraris, The Coffee House, Cairo, 1888, oil on panel, 46.3 x 32.4 cm, Sotheby’s sale (2008)
  3. Osman Hamdi Bey, Public Scribe, undated, oil on canvas, 110 x 77 cm, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Istanbul

 

Osman Hamdi Bey’s works (first and third painting) seem to avoid, to a certain degree, the excessive attention to surface detail and the preciosity characteristic of much Orientalist painting. While this could be an opinion unfairly based on a limited amount of works, there is another, perhaps more significant difference. Hamdi Bey painted a number of works representing people engaged in the acts of writing, reading or studying. Apart from the scribe and Quran scholar depicted above, one can cite such paintings as the splendid 1878 Scholar (Sotheby’s sale, 2012) or the 1905 Young Emir Studying from the Walker Art Gallery. Even in Ferraris’s painting, which includes a man engaged in the reading of what seems like a single-sheet newspaper, the action is taking place in a setting associated primarily with leisure, and the viewer’s attention is drawn to the pouring of the coffee and the prominently featured hookah (narghile).

osman_hamdy_bey_turkish_1842-1910_the_scholar

Osman Hamdi Bey, Scholar, 1878, oil on canvas, 45.5 x 90 cm, Sotheby’s sale, 2012

Hamdi, Osman, 1842-1910; A Young Emir Studying

Osman Hamdi Bey, A Young Emir Studying, 1905, oil on canvas, 120.7 x 222.2 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Even when Orientalist painters have avoided the more blatantly Orientalist subject matter (such as harems, elaborately dressed warriors, people simply posing or standing, or similar lack of activity that confirms the myth of the lazy Oriental), having instead opted for more positive representations, many seem to have focused on manual aspects of labor, or the splendid material culture of the Islamic world (such as the examples by Deutsch and Discart below). The implication is that the achievements of Islamic culture were more or less unrelated to intellectual pursuits. On the contrary, Osman Hamdi Bey’s work, although far from unambiguous, offers a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of choosing to look at one’s own world through the lens of a different culture.

n08542-14-lr-1

Ludwig Deutsch, The Lamp Lighter, 1900, oil on panel, 56.5 x 43.8 cm, Sotheby’s sale, 2009

jean-discart

Jean Discart, L’Atelier de poterie, Tanger, oil on panel, 35 x 45.5 cm, Sotheby’s sale, 2012

 

* On Osman Hamdi Bey, one can further listen to the Ottoman History Podcast by Emily Neumeier “Lost and Found: Art, Diplomacy, and the Journey of a Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Painting.” Images accompanying the podcast can be found here.

 

Advertisements

“Leopard and Deer” (1912), by Robert W. Chanler: On Chanler, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and the periphery

by Foteini Vlachou (Instituto de História da Arte, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Robert W. Chanler (American, 1872-1930), Leopard and Deer, 1912, gouache or tempera on canvas mounted on wood, 194.3 × 133.4 cm, Rokeby Collection (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913)

Robert W. Chanler (American, 1872-1930), Leopard and Deer, 1912, gouache or tempera on canvas mounted on wood, 194.3 × 133.4 cm, Rokeby Collection (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913); photo from the Armory Show at 100

Visual association is not always rational, or even easy to justify. When a friend* sent me Robert W. Chanler’s 1912 work Leopard and Deer, I was immediately reminded of Amadeo de Souza Cardoso’s Os galgos (The greyhounds), as well as the floral background of medieval tapestries, such as La Dame à la licorne series of the Musée de Cluny. What is interesting in this particular juxtaposition is that Chanler and Amadeo share history together as well. They both participated in the legendary Armory Show, the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art. The Armory Show is credited for having introduced modern art to the United States, although a cursory look at some of the artworks present at the exhibition suffices to reveal the incredible versatility, variety and even contradiction of pictorial and plastic styles represented under the qualification of the ‘modern’ (a selection of artworks is available on the excellent site of the Show’s centenary exhibition).

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (1887-1918), Greyhounds, 1911, oil on canvas, 100 x 73 cm, Centro de Arte Moderna – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (photo © Foteini Vlachou)

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (Portuguese, 1887-1918), Greyhounds (Os galgos), 1911, oil on canvas, 100 x 73 cm, Centro de Arte Moderna – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (photo © Foteini Vlachou)

The relationship of the two men extends further. Chanler was among those who bought Amadeo’s works at the Armory Show (see Shannon Vittoria’s short entry “An Unexpected Success“), and both men had studied in Paris. Although Chanler had returned to New York by 1902 (see Megan Fort’s “The Fantastic Robert Winthrop Chanler“), he maintained his ties with Paris, exhibiting at the 1905 Salon d’Automne what was probably his most famous work, Au Pays des Girafes, and also returning (?) to the city to get married in 1910.

The kind of art history that focuses on networks, artists’ sociability, circulations and lived experiences in real places (such as the socio-spatial history undertaken by the Artl@s project focusing on geo-referenced data of exhibitions among other things, or the recently concluded ArtTransForm project that studied transnational artistic education before modernism) could lead to interesting associations, normally difficult to reach through mere stylistic analysis.

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Return from the Chase, ca. 1911, oil on canvas, 30.2 x 64.1 cm, Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913; gift of Manierre Dawson to the museum)

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Return from the Chase, ca. 1911, oil on canvas, 30.2 x 64.1 cm, Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913; gift of Manierre Dawson to the museum); photo from the Armory Show at 100

Furthermore, the posthumous reception of the work of Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and Robert Chanler presents an ironic analogy: they were both written out of the canonical histories of modernism and the assessments of the impact of the Armory Show. Whereas Amadeo was recognized in Portugal for his importance as a modernist, the country’s peripheral status impeded his integration in the modernist canon (periphery here understood as a structure with distinct traits, and not axiologically determined). He will receive his due in the upcoming 2016 Grand Palais exhibition, but the prejudice associated with a concept of the periphery as retrograde is still remarkably persistent in popular publications, such as the article that appeared in The Art Newspaper, entitled “Forgotten Portuguese Modernist gets Grand Palais show“. Forgotten by whom? The article further calls Lisbon, condescendingly, a “relative backwater”, while the implication of Amadeo’s international recognition as a direct result of being exhibited at the Grand Palais, is that Paris is still the unquestionable center.

stronghold

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, The Stronghold, 1912, oil on canvas, 92.4 × 61 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913); photo of the museum

In the case of Robert W. Chanler’s work, that has been obscured over time partly by ignorance, or because it is degrading in locations relatively difficult to access (such as the Crow Room mural in the painter’s ancestral home), periphery can still be seen as constituting the main problem. Not a periphery geographically defined (Chanler lived and produced his work for wealthy patrons in New York), but one defined as situated in the margins of the modernist canon. As a muralist and a painter of screens, Chanler’s work exemplifies the tension between the decorative and modern art (and subsequently abstraction), that characterized the writing of much of the history of Western art from the Renaissance onwards. Chanler, although present at the Armory Show, is absent from the history of modernism.

Chanler’s concerns and efforts at plastic expression seem to have been similar to those of other modernists: the construction of an irrational space, the exploration of the textural qualities of the painted surface (see the brilliant Porcupines here below), an interest in medieval art, as well as non-western art forms like screens, even the attempt to bring together art and decoration in an everyday setting (much like the Nabis claimed to do, in a sense) etc. But this is not the place to argue for a re-evaluation of the artist; rather, it is an effort to show that when canonical history has been, by definition, selective and exclusionary, acknowledging (or apologizing for) its omissions will not get us very far. It is the very logic of exclusion that needs to be addressed in the first instance.

Robert Winthrop Chanler, Screen:

Robert Winthrop Chanler, Screen: “Porcupines” and “Nightmare”, signed and dated 1914, oil on wood, 175.8 x 122.2 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (photo of the museum)

.

* The photographer Gerasimos Mamonas.

 .

.

On Active Reception and Parody: Belmiro de Almeida’s “Arrufos” (Lovers’ Quarrel)

by Arthur Valle (Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro)

.

Fig. 1. Belmiro de Almeida, Lovers’ Quarrel, 1887, oil on canvas, 89 x 116 cm, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro

Fig. 1. Belmiro de Almeida, Lovers’ Quarrel, 1887, oil on canvas, 89 x 116 cm, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro

In this post, I would like to present a work by the Brazilian painter Belmiro de Almeida (1958-1935), entitled Arrufos (Lovers’ quarrel, fig. 1), dated 1887. Described as “a domestic episode, a quarrel between spouses” (1) by Gonzaga Duque (1863-1911), one of the most important Brazilian art critics of his time, Arrufos has traditionally been compared to a painting by the French painter Henri Gervex, entitled Retour du bal (Return from the Ball, fig. 2). Gervex’s painting had been exhibited at the Parisian Salon of 1879, drawing the attention of art critics, notably Émile Zola, who described it as “a scene of jealousy between a woman in tears and a gentleman in a suit, nervously trying to remove his gloves” (2).

Fig. 2. Henri Gervex, Return from the Ball, signed and dated 1879, oil on canvas, 151 x 201 cm, Private collection

Fig. 2. Henri Gervex, Return from the Ball, signed and dated 1879, oil on canvas, 151 x 201 cm, Private collection

Arrufos is arguably a very sexist painting; but I think it deserves attention regarding what seems to be its ironic response to another form of domination – the one implicit in center/periphery artistic relations. Therefore, instead of stressing the evident similarities of theme and composition between Arrufos and Retour du Bal, here I would like to discuss Belmiro’s work as an example of how the circulation of cultural meanings between centers and peripheries does not usually lead to homogenization, but to a dynamic process of borrowings, reinventions and resignifications, often in the form of parody.

How Belmiro knew Gervex’s painting is a noteworthy question. Although it is known that Belmiro was in Paris between 1884 and 1885, I would argue that an indirect contact is more plausible. Reproductions of Retour du bal circulated in Brazil, especially as engraved versions published in European illustrated magazines (3). Notably, on May 5, 1885, an engraving based on Gervex’s painting (Fig. 3) was published in A Ilustração, a Luso-Brazilian magazine located in Paris, but whose main target market was the Portuguese-speaking public in cities like Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. 

Fig. 3. After H. Gervex, Return from the ball, engraving from A Ilustração, 5 May 1885, p.137

Fig. 3. After H. Gervex, Return from the ball, engraving from A Ilustração, 5 May 1885, p.137

Belmiro was well aware of the content of A Ilustração. In the mid-1880s, he became friends with the editor-in-chief of the magazine, the Portuguese writer Mariano Pina (1860-1899). On April 7, 1886, Belmiro addressed a letter to Pina that was accompanied by a drawing of his own, portraying the Brazilian sculptor Rodolpho Bernardelli (1852-1931), and an introductory text concerning the latter, written by Gonzaga Duque. Belmiro’s expectation was that both the drawing and the text would find their place in the pages of A Ilustração, as Belmiro declared: “For a long time I have cherished the idea of sending you a work for A Ilustração” (4).

But the publication of the engraving based on Gervex’s painting in A Ilustração may have been important for another reason: as the magazine had a significant circulation among Portuguese and Brazilian elites, Belmiro could be sure that the dialogue which Arrufos established with Retour du bal would not pass unnoticed by Brazilian audiences. Therefore, the existence of a previous established community of meaning may explain at least part of the success that Arrufos obtained in Brazil. The painting’s reception was very positive when it was first exhibited in Rio de Janeiro in August 1887; in 1888, Belmiro’s request that Arrufos be purchased by the Brazilian Imperial government for the gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts in Rio was accepted. Still in 1888, Gonzaga Duque would state that “hitherto a painting as important as this had not been produced in Rio de Janeiro” (5). The critic praised Belmiro’s “accurate understanding of his times and the objectives of modern painting” (6), which was expressed in his rejection of historical and allegorical subject matter and his choice of an everyday theme. 

All this should not make us forget the ambivalence of the dialogue established between Arrufos and Retour du bal. Deviations are expressed in several elements: for example, Belmiro’s painting is more sober and restrained in its profusion of detail. More significantly, while the man in Gervex’s work expresses a sharper anguish, the man in Belmiro’s manifests superiority and emotional neutrality, as if indifferent to the woman’s distress. The alienation between the couple seems to be emphasized also by its composition, with its downward diagonal dividing it into two parts – one more decorated, associated with the woman, the other more sober, associated with the man.

These deviations remind “glosa” (7), a traditional form of Iberian poetry in which a poem develops a theme presented in the opening stanza of another poem, usually repeating one or more lines of that stanza. Thinking in terms of “glosa” is interesting here because it highlights Belmiro’s active role in reshaping the theme shared with Gervex. It also may be argued that Arrufos is a kind of parody of Retour du bal: what Gervex treats in a melodramatic manner, Belmiro reduces to the triviality of an ordinary quarrel.

Fig. 4. Belmiro de Almeida, Os Descobridores (The Discoverers), 1899, oil on canvas, 260 x 200 cm, Museu Histórico do Itamaraty, Rio de Janeiro

Fig. 4. Belmiro de Almeida, Os Descobridores (The Discoverers), 1899, oil on canvas, 260 x 200 cm, Museu Histórico do Itamaraty, Rio de Janeiro

Parody was indeed a recurrent strategy among Brazilian artists of late nineteenth century, especially regarding the reception of European genres and themes. Examples include another painting by Belmiro, Os Descobridores (The Discoverers, 1899, fig. 4), in which “the parody of the historical landscape as a national genre approaches scorn” (8), but also the aforementioned Rodolpho Bernardelli parodying the tradition of nativist poetry and art in his sculpture A Faceira (The Coquette, 1880, fig. 5). In these works, as in Belmiro’s Arrufos, one can see a strategy of appropriation and reinvention of European models made by artists concerned with Brazilian historical and social topics. In conclusion, Arrufos reminds us of the limitations of notions such as passive reception or influence when discussing center/periphery artistic relations and invites us to think, instead, in terms of trade and exchange in different directions and senses.

.

(1) Gonzaga Duque, A arte brasileira, Campinas 1995, p.211.rb_1880_faceira

(2) Émile Zola, “Lettres de Paris: Nouvelles artistiques et littéraires – Le Salon de 1879,” in: Écrits sur l’art, Paris 1991, p.401-402.

(3)  For example, an engraving was printed in: Le Monde Illustré, 10 January 1880, p.21.

(4) Letter from Belmiro de Almeida Junior to Mariano Pina, April 7, 1886. Lisboa, Biblioteca Nacional. Estate of Mariano and Augusto Pina, N17/252.

(5) Duque, A arte brasileira, p.212.

(6)  Duque, A arte brasileira, p.212.

(7) As stated by Alexandre Eulálio in “O século XIX – Tradição e Ruptura (Panorama das artes plásticas),” in: Berta Waldman e Luiz Dantas, org., Escritos, São Paulo 1992, p.160.

(8) Luciano Migliaccio, “A recepção dos gêneros europeus na pintura brasileira,” in: Ana M. T. Cavalcanti, Arthur Valle and Camila Dazzi, org., Oitocentos – Arte Brasileira do Império à Primeira República, Rio de Janeiro 2008, p.30.

.

Futurism at the Periphery: The 1940s

by Christopher Adams (University of Essex / Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art)

.

Tullio Crali, Intercepting English Torpedo-bombers, c. 1942, oil on board, 71 x 82 cm, Rome: private collection

Tullio Crali, Intercepting English Torpedo-bombers, c. 1942, oil on board, 71 x 82 cm, Rome: private collection

In geographical, political and aesthetic terms, there can be few areas of twentieth-century art history currently considered more ‘peripheral’ than Italian Futurist painting of the 1940s (1).

The work produced during these years is often (erroneously) taken to be synonymous with a genre which came to be known as ‘aeropainting of war’ at the beginning of that decade: an art form representing the culmination of Futurism’s increasing focus on the military application of aviation from the mid-1930s in the context of contemporary political developments (2). This aeropittura di guerra is extremely problematic due to its apparent enthusiasm for the violence and destruction wreaked by the Axis powers during World War Two, and is consequently viewed with disdain even by many of those working in the field of Futurist studies (3). Nevertheless, as an embodiment of the movement’s enduring belief that war was ‘Futurism intensified’ (4), this key tendency demands much closer attention than it has hitherto received. Indeed, given that aeropittura di guerra reflects the fundamental ideological consistency of the movement, its comparative neglect raises important questions about how we evaluate the worth of artworks generally, and highlights inconsistencies and double standards in Futurist scholarship more specifically, as well as focussing attention on the complex relationship between war art and propaganda.

Angelo Caviglioni, Aeroterrestrial Battle, 1940, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 cm, Private collection

Angelo Caviglioni, Aeroterrestrial Battle, 1940, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 cm, Private collection

Reluctance to engage with this imagery has led to an assumption that its aspirations were solely of a political character, and to the misconception that it reflected the retrogressive stylistic qualities favoured by a regime in thrall to the anti-Modernist cultural agenda pursued by its Nazi ally. However, whilst it certainly expressed the movement’s broad solidarity with Fascism, aeropainting of war resists simplistic classification as ‘propaganda’, eschewing the characteristics typically associated with such imagery: stylistic conservatism, overt didacticism, and emotive scenes of human stoicism, heroism, suffering or sacrifice. Moreover, it cannot be divorced from the context of Futurism’s own, pre-existing, estetica della guerra and estetica della macchina. More than a commitment to conveying politically exigent messages, it is an interest in these long-standing thematic and iconographic preoccupations that is most evident in Tullio Crali’s depictions of the acrobatic manoeuvrings of fighter planes (Fig. 1), Angelo Caviglioni’s abstract explorations of the forces unleashed by modern weaponry (Fig. 2) and Tato’s sombre images of war machines (Fig. 3) – works which in fact reflect an awareness of the expressionist-realist style then being employed by artists associated with the Corrente movement, such as Renato Guttuso.

Tato (Guglielmo Sansoni), Italian Torpedo-bomber in Pursuit of Torpedo-boats, 1941, oil on canvas, 49 x 62 cm, Rome: private collection

Tato (Guglielmo Sansoni), Italian Torpedo-bomber in Pursuit of Torpedo-boats, 1941, oil on canvas, 49 x 62 cm, Rome: private collection

Ultimately, the term propaganda seems no more applicable to this imagery than it does to the war art of any other nation involved in the conflict – much of which was also considerably less interesting, aesthetically speaking. This is an appraisal yet to find widespread acceptance within the academic community, and yet the fact that contemporary commentators acknowledged the visual interest and richness of this work suggests the extent to which purely political objections have coloured post-war judgements of the genre’s artistic worth.

.

(1) This period is also ‘peripheral’ in terms of Futurism’s own internal development, in the sense that it represents the concluding phase of a movement which had been in existence for over three decades by this point.

(2) A fascination with flight had fed into Futurist aesthetics since the earliest days of the movement, reaching a pinnacle at the end of the 1920s with the development of ‘aeropainting’. Over the course of the 1930s countless attempts were made by the movement’s artists to capture not only the visual novelties experienced in flight – such as vertiginous, topsy-turvy landscapes – but also to explore its metaphysical dimensions.

(3) See, for example, Günter Berghaus, Futurism and Politics: Between Anarchist Rebellion and Fascist Reaction, 1909-1944 (Providence and Oxford: Berghahn, 1996), pp. 255-57.

(4) F. T. Marinetti, Emilio Settimelli and Bruno Corra, ‘The Futurist Synthetic Theatre’ (1915), in F. T. Marinetti, Let’s Murder the Moonshine: Selected Writings, ed. by R. W. Flint (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1991), pp. 131-37 (p. 131).

.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders of the images reproduced here. The author apologises if any material has been reproduced without permission.

.

French Sintra

by Foteini Vlachou (Instituto de História da Arte, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Pierre Lelu, drawing signed

Pierre Lélu, drawing signed “P. Lelu a Penhaverde”, c. 1772-1778, 21.8 x 33 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (work in the public domain: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/RP-T-1983-63)

For the first post of the ‘featured artwork’ category of the ‘art in the periphery’, the three drawings reproduced here, by French artist Pierre Lélu (1741-1810) (1), may seem like an odd choice. Nothing about their country of origin, genre or style seem ‘peripheral’. Nevertheless, in a country where no indigenous tradition of landscape painting existed until the nineteenth century as I have elsewhere argued (2), and where landscape was systematically ‘discovered’ as a subject worthy of representation by foreigners (often French, like Lélu), these three drawings can be used to illustrate the complex ways that center-and-periphery relationships might function, in the realm of art.

Lélu came to Portugal in all likelihood in August 1773, as secretary of the French ambassador Clermont d’Amboise (3). If he stayed for the length of the latter’s appointment to the court of Portugal, then he must have left with him in October 1774. He traveled though to Spain in 1773-1774, where he made topographical sketches for Lord Grantham, as well as pencil portraits of him (4). His short stay is more likely responsible for the fact that these drawings or any other activity he might have undertaken while in Portugal, seem to have sunk into oblivion (5).

Drawings from Sintra dating from this period are relatively rare (6). A quick sketch of Sintra’s hilly landscape by Alexandre Jean Noël (1752-1843), from a sketchbook dating from 1780, is preserved in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. Its sweeping vista is not unlike the topographic drawings produced during various scientific expeditions. Noël would have undoubtedly been familiar with their visual language, as well as compositional structure, since he accompanied the astronomer Jean Chappe who set out to Mexico to observe the transit of Venus in 1769, and was responsible for documenting anything that might appear of interest for the expedition. Noël’s most recognisable view of Sintra, a 1795 aquatint representing Monserrate, the country seat of the rich merchant Gerard de Visme, still retains the memory of the 1780 sketch.

Lélu’s drawings are very different. He appears to have concentrated his efforts in the representation of the lush foliage, creating a vision of nature that accommodates different social classes as picturesque motifs, without disrupting neither the scenery nor the hierarchical organisation implied in its depiction. At a time when Portugal’s landscape was being transformed into images by various foreign artists (mostly French, some British), it is not so much the rarity of an early representation of a Sintra landscape that is striking, but its transformation into a rococo pleasure garden. Lélu followed the pictorial conventions of eighteenth-century French painting while portraying a Portuguese landscape. What are the implications of that transposition of visual vocabulary? What would have been the significance – and consequences – of these images, produced by outsiders looking in? And what would these have meant to younger generations of Portuguese artists when they were called upon to create their own versions of their country’s landscape?

I hope that Lélu’s drawings can serve as a starting point for this discussion.

Pierre Lélu, drawing inscribed 'a Cintra', black chalk, pen and black ink, grey wash, 16.7 x 21.6 cm, auctioned 3 July 2012 (Sale 5688, Christie's, source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5582152)

Pierre Lélu, drawing inscribed ‘a Cintra’,
black chalk, pen and black ink, grey wash, 16.7 x 21.6 cm, auctioned 3 July 2012 (Sale 5688, Christie’s, source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5582152)

(1) For biographical information on Pierre Lélu, see Vialart Saint-Morys, “Notice sur Pierre Lélu”, in: Magasin encyclopédique, ou Journal des sciences, des lettres et des arts, rédigé par A. L. Millin, vol. IV, 1810, pp. 323-328; see also Jules Renouvier, Histoire de l’art pendant la révolution, considéré principalement dans les estampes, Paris 1863, pp. 135-137. There is also a recent master thesis, that I have been unable to consult: Ophélie Lopez, “Pierre Lélu, dessinateur”, mémoire de recherche, Université Paris IV Sorbonne, 2010.

(2) Paper on ‘Painting Portuguese Nature’, delivered in the Crossing Borders international workshop (25-29 September 2014, Lisbon). Publication forthcoming.

(3) Vialart Saint-Morys, op. cit., mentions that the artist traveled extensively in the service of the marquis from 1767 onwards, in various European courts. For the dates of Clermont d’Amboise’s appointment to the court of Portugal, see Visconde de Santarem, Quadro elementar das relações politicas e diplomaticas de Portugal com as diverse potencias do undo deeds o principio da Monarchia Portuguese ate os nossos dias, vol. 8, Paris 1853, pp. VIII-XII. Nevertheless, the book Étrennes de la noblesse, ou état actuel des familles & Nobles de France, & des Maisons & Princes Souverains de l’Europe, published in Paris in 1771, already mentions d’Amboise’s appointment, as having happened in June 1767. This would push the arrival of both men back by six years. Further research will be needed to clarify this point.

(4) Enriqueta Harris, Complete Studies on Velázquez, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, 2006, p. 297.

(5) A quick search in the traditional sources where the memories of foreign artists who worked in Portugal have survived (Cyrillo Volkmar Machado, Sousa Viterbo) has not yet revealed any clues.

(6) Agostinho Rui Marques de Araújo, “Experiência da natureza e sensibilidade pré-romântica em Portugal. Temas de pintura e seu consumo (1780-1825)”, 2 vols, PhD dissertation, Centro de História da Universidade do Porto, Porto 1991 (vol. 1, pp. 151-155), mentions two aquatints by John Cleveley the Younger (1747-1786), representing the Paço da Vila (Sintra National Palace). Araújo assumes that Cleveley was in Portugal in 1766 accompanying Joseph Banks, but there is no evidence to sustain this. As a marine painter, Cleveley also produced numerous drawings with views of the Tagus river, and the dates on the volume of thirty-seven drawings entitled Views round the Coast and on the River Tagus (Sotheby’s 17 Nov 1983, lot 51) place his visit to Portugal from August 1775 to January 1776 (information from: Bonhams).

Pierre Lélu, drawing signed

Pierre Lélu, drawing signed “vue de l’Eglise de Sinnetra/en Portugal”, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown and gray wash, over traces of graphite, 26.8 x 39.5 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (source: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/337671?rpp=30&pg=1&ft=lélu&pos=3)

More works by Pierre Lélu can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum, the Joconde database of artworks in French museums, and several related auction results are also available online.