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Augustin Alphonse Gaudar de la Verdine

(1780 Bourges – 1804 Siena)

Landscape with the Sibylline Temple in Tivoli. Brush and brown and gray wash, over pencil. 20.6 x 20.8 cm. Signed and dated: "Rome 1803 Alphonse Gaudar".

Little is known of the young, prematurely deceased painter Alphonse Gaudar. He studied in Paris under the history and portrait painter François André Vincent (1746–1816), who probably advised him to go to Rome and study at the Academy there in 1803. Although Gaudar received an award in 1799 for his historical painting Manlius Torquatus Condemning His Son to Death, he died too soon to follow this up with further accomplishments. His was one of the many tragic cases of young, ambitious artists who set off for Italy around 1800 only to die shortly afterwards as a result of illness or other misfortune.

The present little landscape impression from Tivoli was done in the same year that Gaudar arrived in Rome. The paper format suggests that the sheet belonged to a sketchbook, and the drawing was probably done directly on the spot in the open air. Gaudar has drawn the ancient Sibylline Temple, the landmark of Tivoli, in a very lively and straightforward style. Over faint preliminary indications in pencil the scene has been set out in a broad sweeping manner as a pure brush drawing, giving the whole the directness of a swiftly executed sketch. Largish areas of gray and brown wash are effectively set off against each other and enlivened by rapid single brush strokes that give more detail to the terrain and the vegetation on the mountain crest. The judicious use of blank paper creates striking lighting effects. Gaudar’s drawing technique is remotely reminiscent of Boissieu’s. For all its unpretentiousness the work nevertheless conveys a convincing illusion of a picturesque corner of Tivoli "amid the blaze of noon".

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