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$ 16,000

River Landscape with Peasants

Documentation Ample Provenance
Documentation Notes Provenance: possibly with Levine and Mosley, London, circa 1940
Henry Broughton, Second Lord Fairhaven, South Walsham, Norfolk
by descent, Ailwyn Broughton, Third Lord Fairhaven, Anglesey Abbey,
Cambridge
Origin France
Period 18th Century
Materials Gouache on paper; ruled border in brown ink; original mount
Dimensions
W. 15.25 in; H. 12 in;
W. 38.74 cm; H. 30.48 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date 1752-1834
Description River landscape with peasants in the rocky foreground and a church in the background


A student of Jacques-Augustin de Sylvestre and Claude-Joseph Vernet, Alexandre-Jean Noël was a noted landscape painter and one of the most proficient exponents of the gouache technique. At the age of sixteen, while still studying at the Academy, he was hired, by Abbé Chappe d’Anteroche, to join an expedition to California. Noël was charged with drawing views of the coast and the various regional subjects of natural history. Although Abbé Chappe died on the long journey, the Voyage de Californie was published, with text by Pauly, the engineer, and illustrations by Noël. Ten of the artist’s drawings for this project were bought, on the advice of Charles-Nicolas Cochin le Jeune, by Louis XV for the Cabinet du Roi, and are now in the cabinet des Dessins at the Louvre (see Inventaire Général, École Française, t. XII, no. 168-177). Noël continued to travel extensively during his career, on artistic voyages throughout France and the Iberian Peninsula. He is believed to have visited Portugal during Pillement’s artistic sojourn there. Noël exhibited at the Salon continuously from 1800 to 1822.
Working principally in gouache and often on a large scale, Noël continued in the grand tradition of Vernet by specializing in harbor scenes and river landscapes, heightened by the dramatic effects of storms, sunsets and moonlight. From Vernet, Noël inherited a Romantic approach to nature, which, in turn, stemmed from Salvator Rosa, who expressed similar proto-Romantic sentiments in his depiction of nature. The illustration of contrasting times of day evolved from the work of Claude Lorrain, by way, once again, of Noël’s master, Vernet, who carried the idiom to new heights.
Retaining its original mount, this gouache, which was formerly part of the noted Fairhaven collection of gouaches and watercolors, the bulk of which was given to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, is one of Noël’s more finely painted and fully conceived river landscapes. This gouache is particularly representative of the artist’s search for the expressive potential of light; he has divided the scene into three distinct planes, each dictated by a contrasting tonal range. In the foreground, the earth tones of the rocky shore are emphasized by the strong chiaroscuro effects created by the shadow of an encroaching rock formation on the left, which adds a moody, stage-set-like characteristic to the scene. Indeed, the spatial barrier of the foreground is elaborated by the deep blue palette of the center ground, filled with the constructs of man, and by the ethereal tones of the hills and sky in the background.
Styles / Movements Other
Incollect Reference Number 305345
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