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GASPARD DUGHET (1615-1675)
  • GASPARD DUGHET (1615-1675)

    PLEASE NOTE THAT A SEPARATE CATALOGUE IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST FOR THIS WORK

     

     

    FIGURES BY A RIVER IN A CLASSICAL LANDSCAPE

    Bears collector's stamp l.l. (L.419)

    Black & white chalks on blue paper, with black ink framing lines

    38 x 50 cm

     

    Provenance:

    Sir Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820), London (Lugt 419);

    His sale, Christie's, 09.07.1820 July 1820, one of lots 51-65;

    Where acquired by Samuel Woodburn, London;

    His sale, Christie's, 16-27.06.1854, possibly Lot 622 (Poussin (G.), A large and grand Italian landscape, black and white chalk on blue paper) (sold for £12.0);

    Where acquired by Sir Thomas Phillips, London (1792-1872; no mark, see Lugt S. 924b); (a)

    (Possibly) Rev. Richard Bagley, Cambridge (bears inscription to backboard 'Belongs to Richard Bagley'); (b)

    Anonymous Sale, Mendip Auction Rooms, Bath, 14.05.2022, Lot 434 (as A 19th century pencil sketch);

    Where acquired by the previous owner, by whom sold anonymously at Bonham's, New Bond St., 04.04.2023, Lot 215 (as Circle of Marco Ricci)

     

     

     

    We are grateful to Professor Sarah Cantor for confirming the attribution of this work on the basis of digital images, and for generously assisting in its cataloguing.

     

     

    'West’s early interest and references to Poussin in his own paintings is well- known, so it is not surprising that he assembled an extensive collection of the artist’s Arcadian scenes in paintings, prints, and drawings, which included a cache of fifteen ‘grand historical landscapes in black and white chalks on blue paper’ (1)

     

     

    In 2005, Sarah Cantor noted that, 'Compared to the scholarly works written on Claude Lorrain, Dughet is virtually neglected…and his work as a draughtsman is not well understood.' (2) Although Dughet’s artistic debt to his brother-in-law Nicolas Poussin is well-known, it is not certain whether or not Dughet was also a pupil in Claude’s own studio, though it has been suggested (3) that Dughet likely accompanied Poussin and Claude on their joint sketching expeditions whilst studying in the former’s studio, thereby learning under two of history's greatest landscape artists. He would carry the ideas and inspiration of his teachers throughout the rest of his career, refining both artists' work and, in so doing, joining the pantheon which they inhabited within the genre.

     

    A prolific artist, more than four hundred paintings are today accepted as being at least in part by Dughet; however, his extant drawn oeuvre is much smaller and, consequently, dating his drawings is more of a challenge. In spite of this challenge, we do know that Dughet's preferred medium and support changed after his work on the frescoes at San Martino ai Monti, 'to black chalk, often on blue or grey paper, with white heightening…carefully blending the chalk and employing lines of varying thickness to create an atmospheric effect. The figures are usually barely sketched and are often not shaded...' (4), a description which would place the present work somewhere in the latter half of the artist's lifetime. Considering Dughet's drawings, Dr Cantor also noted that where Poussin regarded drawing as merely a step towards a finished painting, Dughet appears to have given more importance to his works on paper, possibly intending the more sophisticated of them as finished works in their own right. She suggests too that Dughet’s later chalk landscapes may have been presentation drawings for his patrons, meant either to be kept as records or as final drafts for their approval. Intriguingly, not a single drawing is securely signed or dated by Dughet, and not all of them correspond directly to a painting, though from the high level of finish in our drawing we may assume that it was treated as a work to be kept and not just as a preliminary study.

     

     

    Alongside the comparable works in the British Museum (illustrated above), another work whose composition closely resembles the present sheet's is a drawing in chalks on blue paper in the Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf. (5) Dughet's use of foliage, empty space in the middle-ground and varying strengths of shading and tone to create a far-receding space, with the eye drawn towards the distant peak of the mountain in the background, echoes our drawing and his Classical Landscape from the BM collection, with each work featuring a tall, thin tree to the left of the view acting as a framing device. Sarah Cantor has also noted the similarities in handling and composition between the present work and a group of six drawings by Dughet in the Crockert Art Museum, Sacramento. Finally, a brief mention should be made of one of Dughet's paintings whose composition is close to the present work's: Paysage aux Baigneurs, Palais Muti-Bussi, Rome (Chiarini, no. 40, repr. fig. 57), though it has not been possible directly to connect our drawing to a known painting by the artist.

     

     

    Dughet was born in Rome, the son of a French pastry-cook and his Italian wife. Although regarded as a French artist, and championed by subsequent generations of French artists who studied at the Academie de France in Rome, Dughet never actually visited France himself. Dughet’s sister Anne married Nicolas Poussin in 1626, and it was not long before the great French painter recognised the young Gaspard’s talent for draughtsmanship. Between c.1631-35, Dughet became Poussin’s only pupil, learning to draw alongside his teacher and being exposed to the greatest artists and the cutting-edge of art theory, styles and practices in Rome during this period.

     

    Following his establishment as an independent artist, Dughet would go on to become one of the leading landscape artists of the day. He painted several important fresco cycles, including those at the aforementioned San Martino ai Monti, the Palazzo Colonna, and the Palazzo Pamphili among others. Further clients included the Borghese and Chigi families, as well as the Spanish ambassadors in Rome and King Philip IV of Spain. 

     

     

    • Notes

      (a) It should be noted that Phillips acquired all of the drawings in chalks on blue paper in the Woodburn sale (lots 622, 625 and 627)

      (b) Sir Nicholas Barrington recalls in his memoirs that Bagley, a priest associated with Little St Mary's, Cambridge when he met him, lived in a house in Portugal Place (Cambridge), "full of decent paintings and Renaissance bronzes" (Sir N. Barrington, Nicholas Meets Barrington, London (2013))

      (1) K.H. Weber, The studio and collection of the 'American Raphael': Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820) (PhD thesis), Glasgow (2013), p.105

      (2) S.B. Cantor, Gaspard Dughet: Some problems in the connoisseurship of chalk drawings (Master’s Thesis), University of Maryland (2005), Abstract

      (3) M.N. Boisclair, Gaspard Dughet, sa vie et son oeuvre (1615-1675), Paris (1986), pp.41-42

      (4) Cantor, ibid., p.13

      (5) Cf. C. Klemm, Gaspard Dughet und die ideale landscahft (exhib. cat.), Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (1981), p.38, cat. no. 10; and M. Chiarini, 'Drawings connected with Paintings', in The Burlington Magazine, no. CXI (Dec. 1969), p.753

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