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$ 38,000

Architectural Fantasies with Figures

Documentation Ample Provenance
Documentation Notes Meyers, Mary. French Architectural and Ornament Drawings of the Eighteenth Century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York, 1991.
Origin France
Period 18th Century
Materials Pen and gray ink, watercolor and gouache over graphite on white paper laid on board
Dimensions
W. 9.56 in; H. 12 in;
W. 24.28 cm; H. 30.48 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date 1763-1789
Description Little is known of Jean-Henri Alexandre Pernet. He was mentioned in the list of students at the Royal Academy in 1783 as being twenty years old, living with his family on the rue d’Argenteuil, and a pupil of the painter of cityscapes de Machy. Although he was described as a painter in the Academy lists, the works that are known by him are exclusively drawings. They are almost always architectural and landscape capriccios in a round or an oval format, such as this one, and they came in pairs. Pernet’s work was often reproduced in etchings by Guyot or Janinet.
These two sheets are typical of Pernet’s work in that it shows the strong influence of Hubert Robert and, through him, of Piranesi. Pernet’s capriccios are usually composed of the same components: picturesque ancient ruins, sharp diagonal perspective like stage sets, peopled with small figures in classical garb, and rendered in cool tones as here.
Delicately executed with pen and gray ink and watercolor washes, this oval pair of watercolors by Pernet relies on the use of classical architecture in ruin to create a truly fantastic setting, more theatrically evocative than archeologically correct. In the first, Pernet incorporates the Farnese Hercules on a plinth overlooking the staircase, while the second is centered, on a massive ancient sarcophagus topped by a sculptural group that is distinctly eighteenth century in feeling, more reminiscent of Falconet than of ancient Rome. With a similar anti-historical attitude, Pernet incorporates peasants dressed in contemporary dress with seemingly ancient Roman figures dressed in classically-inspired garb, all elongated to heighten the forced perspective of this scenes. The impact of these two works, as is typical of Pernet, is created by the sharply receding, almost scenographic, seemingly limitless perspective, which is derived from Piranesi.
Styles / Movements Old Master, Other
Catalog References Literature: L’Antiquaire & The Connoisseur, The Aesthetic Pursuit: Form, Figure, Fantasy and the Pastoral Idea, New York, 1998, no. 73. Meyers, Mary. French Architectural and Ornament Drawings of the Eighteenth Century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Incollect Reference Number 305327
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