It was in Italy that landscape painter Harpignies first took up watercolor in 1849. This drawing dates from his second sojourn in 1863–65 and demonstrates his mastery of the medium. By reserving white areas of the paper, Harpignies brilliantly conveys the bleaching effect of the bright Italian sunshine across the shadowy gray and brown tones of the ruins. The artist made two other versions of this composition—one almost twice as large as this sheet—so it was likely for the purpose of repeating and enlarging that he lightly squared this drawing in graphite.
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Title:View of the Colosseum from the Basilica of Domitian and the Flavian Palace, Rome
Medium:Watercolor over graphite, lightly squared in graphite
Dimensions:Overall: 10 1/16 x 14 1/2in. (25.6 x 36.8cm) frame: 16 x 21 in. (40.6 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, Arnold Whitridge Gift, 1963
Inscription: Signed in brush and brown wash, lower left: h'harpignies. Rome 64 Inscribed in pen and black ink In artist's hand, lower right: hommage à mon Neveu Maurice Harpignies
Marking: Verso: graphite notations of Italian place names numbered 1 through 54; A 2603 (Colnaghi stock no.)
Gilbert Davis; Sir Bruce S. Ingram (British); Mme. A. S. Prost; Vendor: P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.
Dayton Art Institute. "French Artists in Italy, 1600-1900," October 15, 1971–November 28, 1971.
Paris. Cabinet des dessins, Musée du Louvre. "Dessins français du Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York de David à Picasso," October 25, 1973–January 7, 1974.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes by French Artists, 1780–1880," November 17, 1987–February 14, 1988.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barbizon: French Landscapes of the Nineteenth Century," February 4–May 10, 1992.
New York State Museum, Albany. "French Painters of Nature: The Barbizon School Landscapes from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 22, 2004–August 22, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Picturing Math: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints," January 31–May 1, 2017.
Jane van Nuis Cahill French Artists in Italy, 1600-1900. Exh. cat. The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH. Dayton, Ohio, 1971, cat. no. 47, p. 27, ill.
Jacob Bean, Linda Boyer Gillies, Cynthia Lambros, Roseline Bacou, Réunion des Musées Nationaux Dessins français du Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: de David à Picasso 54th Exposition de Cabinet des Dessins Musée du Louvre, 25 octobre 1973–7 janvier 1974. Paris, 1973, cat. no. 48, ill.
Arlette Sérullaz L'aquarelle en France au XIXe siècle. Dessins du musée du Louvre. Exh. cat., Paris, Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1983, cat. no. 79.
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