Saturday, November 4, 2017

European Watercolors - 18th century

Pietro de' Pietri
St Clement giving the veil to St Flavia Domitilla
ca. 1710-16
Royal Collection, Windsor

attributed to Gabriel de Saint-Aubin
Theatrical Divertissement
before 1780
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier
Chariot of Apollo 
(ceiling design for Count Bielinski's cabinet, Warsaw)
watercolor, gouache
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

"In writing, as in life, faults are endured without disgust when they are associated with transcendent merit, and may be sometimes recommended to weak judgments by the luster which they obtain from their union with excellence; but it is the business of those who presume to superintend the taste and morals of mankind to separate delusive combinations, and distinguish that which may be praised from that which can only be excused.  As vices never promote happiness, though when overpowered by more active and numerous virtues they cannot totally destroy it; so confusion and irregularity produce no beauty, though they cannot always obstruct the brightness of genius and learning.  To proceed from one truth to another, and connect distant propositions by regular consequences, is the great prerogative of man.  Independent and unconnected sentiments flashing upon the mind in quick succession may for a time delight by their novelty, but they differ from systematical reasoning as single notes from harmony, as glances of lightning from the radiance of the sun."

 Samuel Johnson, from The Rambler, Saturday, 21 September 1751

Anonymous Spanish artist
Fan with Theatrical Mask and Theatrical Scenes
watercolor on paper, with ivory sticks
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Charles-Louis Clérisseau
Colosseum, Rome
ca. 1750-55
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Hubert Robert
Architectural Fantasy
Albertina, Vienna

Francesco Navone
Stage-design with Palatial Hall
ca. 1760-90
Morgan Library, New York

François Cuvilliés the Younger
Scroll Ornament
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Jean-Charles Delafosse
A Masquerade
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Nicola Fiore
Chinoiserie wall-decoration for drawing room in the Palace of Caserta
watercolor, gouache
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Jean Grandjean
Arcadian Landscape
British Museum

"The range of pastoral is indeed narrow, for though nature itself, philosophically considered, be inexhaustible, yet its general effects on the eye and on the ear are uniform, and incapable of much variety of description.  Poetry cannot dwell upon the minuter distinctions by which one species differs from another, without departing from that simplicity of grandeur which fills the imagination; nor dissect the latent qualities of things, without losing its general power of gratifying every mind by recalling its conceptions.  . . .  But pastoral subjects have been often, like others, taken into the hands of those that were not qualified to adorn them, men to whom the face of nature was so little known, that they have drawn it only after their own imagination, and changed or distorted her features, that their portraits might appear something more than servile copies from their predecessors.  Not only the images of rural life, but the occasions on which they can be properly produced, are few and general. The state of a man confined to the employments and pleasures of the country, is so little diversified, and exposed to so few of those accidents which produce perplexities, terrors and surprises, in more complicated transactions, that he can be shown but seldom in such circumstances as attract curiosity.  His ambition is without policy, and his love without intrigue."  

 Samuel Johnson, from The Rambler, Saturday, 21 July 1750

Paul Sandby
Meteor of 1783, Windsor
Royal Collection, Windsor

Louis-Jean Desprez
Scenery for the opera Frigga
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

 Asmus Jakob Carstens
Philoctetes aiming the bow of Hercules at Odysseus
Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin