Beaune 1821 – Paris 1911
Landscape with Figures
Watercolor. Signed Ziem with the brush lower left.
134 x 238 mm – 5 1/4 x 9 3/8 in
An artist traveller and poet, with a free manner and fertile talent, Ziem throughout his career mopped up the contempt of intellectual critics, who decried his too easy virtuosity and whimsical subjects, but constantly enjoyed great 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 evoked for him Turner and Claude Lorrain, and which he painted relentlessly. Even before his first trip to the Orient, he imagined it in visions of dreams and light drawing inspiration from prints and travel writing. After visiting the Netherland, Austria, Russia in 1844, where he became the watercolor teacher of the Gagarine Princesses, he finally discovered the Orient in 1856.
As always, it takes Ziem little means to evoke whatever landscape. With a few liquid strokes and color stains, the artist easily conveys the idea of an “elsewhere” inviting the viewer to journey. A few figures animate the landscape; one of them is red and stands out clearly against the green vegetation, encouraging the viewer to immerse oneself into the landscape and walk to the tall dark trees standing against the source of light in the background.