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    Signed l.r. Pernet
    Black ink, grey wash and watercolour on paper
    30 x 50.8 cm

    Mortimer Brandt Gallery, New York;

    Private Collection, Madison Avenue, N.Y.



    Comparable in size to Pernet's Architectural Capriccio in the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, this exceptionally large and detailed work is a brilliant example of the artist's more ambitious compositions. Commenting on the Morgan's example, Cara Denison noted that 'Pernet also knew Piranesi's prints, evident in this unusually large and fantastic view organised in diagonal strata [as the present work is] like some of the plates in Piranesi's Vedute di Roma' (1).


    Little is known of Jean-Henri Alexandre Pernet. He was mentioned in the list of students at the Académie Royale de Peinture in 1783 as being twenty years old, living with his family on the Rue d’Argenteuil, and we know that he was a pupil of the painter Pierre-Antoined Demachy. Although Pernet was described as a painter in the Academy lists, the works that are known by him are exclusively drawings in watercolour and pen & ink with wash. Among these, the most common are small pairs of capricci: oval scenes of architectural fantasy, often with scenes which, individually, seem asymmetrical and chaotic, but with their pendants present a coherent whole space, with the two pictures in concert with each other. Pernet also produced drawings for ornamental engravings, used as decoration for ornamental boxes and for buttons.

    • Notes

      (1) Exploring Rome: Piranesi & his Contemporaries (exhib. cat., eds. C.D. Denison, M.N. Rosenfeld, S. Wiles), Cambridge MA (1993), p.201, cat. no. 115

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