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Title:City Wall at the Foot of a Mountain
Artist:Pierre Henri de Valenciennes or Circle (French, Toulouse 1750–1819 Paris)
Medium:Oil on paper
Dimensions:14 3/8 x 18 7/8 in. (36.5 x 47.9 cm)
Credit Line:Thaw Collection, Jointly Owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Eugene V. Thaw, 2009
private collection, France (one of twenty-one oil sketches [including The Met 2009.400.111–119] thought to have remained together as a group since at least the early nineteenth century; sold to Laurentin); [Galerie Antoine Laurentin, Paris, until 1995; one of nine oil sketches (The Met 2009.400.111–119) sold to Bayser]; [Galerie de Bayser, Paris, until late 1995; one of nine oil sketches (The Met 2009.400.111–119) sold as works by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes to Thaw]; Eugene V. Thaw, New York (1995–2009)
Spoleto. Palazzo Racani Arroni. "Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes 1750–1819," June 27–August 4, 1996, no. 54 (as "Mura di città accanto a una montagna," by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes).
New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "The Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994," September 27, 2002–January 19, 2003, no. 68 (as "City Wall at the Foot of a Mountain," by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes).
Bruno Mantura inPierre-Henri de Valenciennes 1750–1819. Exh. cat., Palazzo Racani Arroni, Spoleto. Naples, 1996, pp. 99, 133, 142, no. 54, ill. (color and black and white), states that, as the sketch bears no inscription, the title is descriptive; notes that it is one of eight previously unexhibited, unpublished oil sketches by Valenciennes which were recently on the Paris art market together with a ninth example [now MMA 2009.400.111–119], and that these are probably identical with the group of nine such works included in the artist's posthumous sale, held in Paris on April 26, 1819, where they were purchased by his nephew Achille Valenciennes; describes the view as depicting a portion of an unidentified city wall, noting that although it appears to be Roman in date, it does not belong to the Aurelian wall.
Geneviève Lacambre inPierre-Henri de Valenciennes 1750–1819. Exh. cat., Palazzo Racani Arroni, Spoleto. Naples, 1996, p. 133, states that, according to the posthumous inventory of Valenciennes's atelier, the artist's studies were kept in a single folder, but that they were subsequently divided, including a group of nine that the artist's nephew [Achille Valenciennes] purchased for the relatively high sum of 405 francs, suggesting that these might be identical with MMA 2009.400.111–19.
Christopher Riopelle inA Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 1999, p. 166 under no. 67, states that this is one of eight works included in Exh. Spoleto 1996 [MMA 2009.400.111–112 and 2009.400.114–119] as works by Valenciennes which were, rather, painted by George Augustus Wallis (Scottish, 1761–1847) during the latter's Italian sojourn of 1788–1806.
Anna Ottani Cavina. Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830). Exh. cat., Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 2001, p. 95 under no. 61, p. 133 under no. 86, attributes MMA 2009.400.111–112 and 2009.400.114–119 to Wallis; infers that they were attributed to Wallis by James Mackinnon on the basis of his own research (in "Aspects of Landscape 1760–1880," exh. cat., W. M. Brady & Co., New York, 1996, unpaginated, under nos. 6–7; see also nos. 8–9); infers that John Lishawa singled them out from among all the works included in Exh. Spoleto 1996 to serve as the basis for assigning previously unattributed works to Wallis (see "George Augustus Wallis, 1761–1847," exh. cat., Galerie Eric Coatalem, Paris, 1998, p. 8); notes that [Ref. Riopelle 1999] also attributes them to Wallis; compares it to a nearly identical view by Simon Denis in the Whitney collection (now MMA 2003.42.21).
Cara Dufour Denison inThe Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994. Exh. cat., Pierpont Morgan Library. New York, 2002, pp. 152–53, no. 68, ill. (color), compares it to the nearly identical composition by Simon Denis (MMA 2003.42.21).
William M. Griswold and Cara D. Denison inThe Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994. Exh. cat., Pierpont Morgan Library. New York, 2002, pp. 156, 158, call it a work by Valenciennes but also state that "further study is needed"; summarize arguments for the attribution of the nine MMA oil sketches (2009.400.111–119) as set forth in Refs. Lacambre 1999, Riopelle 1999, and Cavina 2001; consider all nine to be by the same hand but question whether the same artist also executed the sketches exhibited by Mackinnon and Coatalem and attributed by them to Wallis [see Ref. Cavina 2001].
Charlotte Gere inPlein-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850. Exh. cat., Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Shizuoka, 2004, p. 44 under no. 8, compares it to the nearly identical view by Simon Denis in the Whitney Collection (MMA 2003.42.21).
Geneviève Lacambre. "Introduction." Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, 1750–1819: Actes du colloque du 28 mai 2003. Portet-sur-Garonne, 2005, pp. 11, 22 n. vii, questions the certainty of her prior attribution of MMA 2009.400.111–119, including this work, to Valenciennes [see Ref. Lacambre 1996].
Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, pp. 145–46, no. 133, ill. (color), calls it "City Wall at the Foot of a Mountain".
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