A Roman View with Castle Sant'Angelo and an Artist at his Easel in the foreground by Félix Ziem

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Romantic Castel Sant’Angelo in the sunlight

A Roman View with Castle Sant’Angelo and an Artist at his Easel in the foreground by Félix Ziem.

Félix Ziem

Beaune 1821 – Paris 1911

A Roman View with Castle Sant’Angelo and an Artist at his Easel in the foreground

Signed and dated Ziem 49 lower left.

Watercolor, ink wash heightened with arabic gum. 

160 x 220 mm – 6 5/16 x 8 11/16 in.

Provenance – Alexis Bordes Gallery, Paris ; Private collection.

An artist, traveler and poet with a free manner and fertile talent, Ziem, throughout his career, mopped up the contempt of intellectual critics, who reproached him for his too effortless virtuosity and whimsical subjects, but nevertheless enjoyed constant success with the public. Despite training as an architect, Ziem decided to devote himself to painting after contact with the Mediterranean and its light. He discovered the south of France, then Venice, which he painted relentlessly, inspired by Turner and Claude Lorrain. Even before his first trip to Orient, he imagined it in visions of dreams and light, drawing inspiration from prints or travel writing. After visiting the Netherlands, Austria, Russia in 1844, where he became the watercolor teacher of the Gagarine Princesses, he finally discovered the. Orient in 1856.

This romantic view of a painter settled with his easel in front of Castel Sant’Angelo – maybe a self-representation – imbued with sunlight glow shows one of Ziem’s less known aspects. Far from his Venetian and Oriental fantasies or views bathed in light, this image demonstrates a softer, almost tender mood but with unexpected restraint from this usually demonstrative painter. This drawing is a particularly sophisticated version of a composition that Ziem drew several times. He executed a preliminary study on the verso of the first draft of a letter dating to the early 1840s (Art Market) and addressed to countess Maltzan, with whom he then had a love affair.

Condition report – False margin. Very slight loss of paper on the upper left corner. Very light traces (of an old mount?) on the right and left edges. The watercolor is in good condition.