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$ 3,200

“Figures amongst the Flora”

Documentation Signed
Origin Switzerland
Period 19th Century
Materials Sepia drawing composed of ink, watercolor and gouache on paper
W. 12 in; H. 8 in; D. 0.25 in;
W. 30.48 cm; H. 20.32 cm; D. 0.64 cm;
Condition Very good
Creation Date Circa 1810
Description Incredibly detailed sepia watercolor with highlights of brown ink and white gouache of a flora inspired woodland setting with two figures in conversation sitting in the background. Very good condition with no issues. Signed with the artist monogram lower left. Matted but unframed.

Biography Wolfgang-Adam Topffer 1766 - 1847 Born and died in Geneva. The increasing prosperity of Geneva, positioned as it was on the borders of France but free of the latter’s financial controls, led to the establishment of an expanding and wealthy bourgeoisie. While the Genevois generally eschewed the grand tastes of their wealthy neighbor, they nonetheless welcomed the opportunity to have their portraits painted. The most successful painter of Geneva society during the eighteenth century was the pastelist Jean-Etienne Liotard, one of the greatest of all artists working in that medium. This portrait tradition, with a preference for working on vellum or paper, was continued by three of the leading Geneva painters of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century, Jacques-Laurent Agasse (1767-1849), Firmon Massot (1766-1849) and their exact contemporary, Wolfgang-Adam Töpffer.

Since Geneva provided no opportunity for a sophisticated artistic training, Paris continued to be the artistic Mecca for all aspiring painters and both Töpffer and Agasse completed their studies there. Agasse was the first to leave, in 1786, joining the expanding group studying with David. Töpffer remained in Geneva until 1789, when he arrived in Paris in the midst of revolutionary turmoil. His first master was the Flemish born J.B. Suvée, an history painter of solid reputation who was later to become director of the French Academy in Rome. Töpffer’s French training not only ensured that he was well schooled in draftsmanship, honing his technical skills but also exposed him to a changing and diverse artistic milieu. History painting held little attraction for him, however, and over the succeeding five years he earned his living producing small-scale portraits in watercolor and gouache. Typical of these is the elegant portrait of his wife shown here.Prior to Lucien Boissonnas’ monograph on the artist,[1] studies of Töpffer’s oeuvre paid little attention to his early career as a portraitist, before the artist concentrated on the better-known genre subjects painted in oils. Criticized for their ‘bluish’ tones and ‘effeminate elegance’ (Baud-Bovy, p. 24), their aristocratic refinement was perhaps seen as a rejection of the honest republican values expected of a citizen of Geneva. While his later oil paintings share similarities with the northern genre painters such as Demarne, in his watercolor technique the artist retained the same careful draftsmanship and soft colours of the early works (see, for example, En Manoeuvres, Baud-Bovy, p.30). In Paris Töpffer was also exposed to the influence of Pierre Henri de Valenciennes who was not only the acknowledged master of the paysage historique but the strongest advocate of plein-air painting – reproducing nature as one saw it, as immediately as possible. Töpffer was the first Swiss artist to embrace Valenciennes’ maxims on landscape painting even though he preferred to portray the everyday lives of the Geneva bourgeoisie to following Valenciennes in the production of grand, historical subjects.
Styles / Movements Realism
Incollect Reference Number 333164
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