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Pozzuoli and the Bay of Naples

Alexandre Calame (Swiss, Vevey 1810–1864 Menton)

Date:
1844
Medium:
Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
Dimensions:
12 3/4 x 16 1/4 in. (32.5 x 41.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Whitney Collection, Promised Gift of Wheelock Whitney III, and Purchase, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. McVeigh, by exchange, 2003
Accession Number:
2003.42.8
  • Gallery Label

    Calame is best known as a painter of Alpine landscapes, but from September 1844 until March 1845 he led eight students on a tour of Italy. Of the Bay of Naples, he wrote, "It delighted me at first sight; this brilliant light, these picturesque buildings, the blue sea and the extreme clarity of the air give one a sense of ease. I cannot sufficiently admire the harmony of tones and their richness; I promised myself an ample harvest of memories, and, between us, something a little more useful—studies." Calame was at Pozzuoli on October 22, 1844, the likely date of this sketch.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Calame led eight students on a tour of Italy from September 1844 until March 1845. The artist spent the better part of his stay in Naples crippled by dysentery, and few sketches remain from this period of his journey, which lasted approximately one month. In the artist’s posthumous atelier sale this sketch was entitled "Environs de Naples"; it shows a view of the Bay of Naples from Pozzuoli. Two of four other drawings that are identified as having been made at Pozzuoli also bear a date, October 22, 1844, thus providing the likely date for this sketch, too (see Valentina Anker, Alexandre Calame [1810–1864]: dessins, catalogue raisonné, Berne, 2000, pp. 486–87, nos. 357–60, ill.). Two oils, both lost but known through reproductive lithographs, also derive from Calame’s visit there: Ruines d’un amphithéâtre à Pouzzoles (royaume de Naples), described as an "esquisse peinte," and Souvenir de Pouzzoles, described as an "esquisse" (see Valentina Anker, Alexandre Calame, vie et oeuvre: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, Fribourg, 1987, pp. 366–67, nos. 263 and 269).

    In a lengthy letter to his early patron John Revilliod (dated October 17, 19, 23, and 24, 1844, and received on November 16), Calame wrote of his experience of the Bay of Naples: "I say that I know it [only] a little because until now I have seen only a part of the gulf, Pozzuoli, Baia, the Cape of Misenus, Procida, and finally Ischia, where I am now. It delighted me at first sight; this brilliant light, these picturesque buildings [fabriques], the blue sea and the extreme clarity of the air give one a sense of ease. I cannot sufficiently admire the harmony of tones and their richness; I promised myself an ample harvest of memories, and, between us, something a little more useful—studies [des études . . . ]" (see E[ugène]. Rambert, Alexandre Calame, sa vie et son oeuvre, d’après les sources originales, Paris, 1884, pp. 211, 213, trans. AEM; for Calame’s drawings of Ischia, which are dated November 1844, see Anker 2000, pp. 488–89, nos. 366–68).

    This oil sketch shows traces of underdrawing, notably the ghost of a tree in the area occupied by the cupola, left of center.

    [2013; based on research undertaken in conjunction with Miller 2013]

  • Provenance

    the artist, Paris (1844–d. 1865; estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 13–22, 1865, no. 111, as "Environs de Naples," for Fr 325 to Sabatier); Sabatier, Paris (from 1865); [Jacques Fischer-Chantal Kiener, Paris, until 1983; sold in late 1983 to Whitney]; Wheelock Whitney III, New York (from 1983)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850," January 22–April 21, 2013, unnumbered cat. (fig. 55).

  • References

    Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), p. 44, fig. 55 (color).



  • Notes

    The red wax seal of the Calame atelier sale (see Provenance) is affixed to a section of the original stretcher, which is mounted to the current stretcher; an old paper label transfered from the original stretcher is inscribed: Environs de Naples / par Calame / le 13 mars 1865.

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