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Italian Sketchbook. Nine pen-and-ink drawings over graphite, 16 pencil drawings, partly with wash, and a few outline sketches. 11.7 x 15.6 cm (sheet size). Signed and dated on the cover sheet: “FJBMarinus Roma 1829”.
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The sketchbook is an instructive and artistically pleasing testimony to the Italian journey undertaken by the Belgian genre and landscape painter, Ferdinand Marinus, who stayed in Rome from 1829 to 1830. The meticulously executed drawings show that the young artist went on extended exploratory trips to the Roman Campagna and left out none of the destinations popular at the time. The annotated sketches and drawings mention, among other places, Ariccia, Civitella, Olevano, Rocca di Papa and Monte Cavo. Marinus was obviously accompanied on his journeys by fellow-artists. A pen-and-ink sketch, made on 14 May 1829 in Monte Cavo, mentions the names of German artists of about the same age, such as Friedrich Preller the Elder (1804–1878), Bernhard Neher (1806–1888) and Peter Wilhelm App (1803–1855), who were in Rome at the same time. The city was much frequented by foreign artists in the 1820s. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was here from 1825 to 1828 and Carl Blechen in 1829.
Many of the drawings in our sketchbook derive their appeal from the concentrated, pictorial manner of their execution. The artist has rendered a massif near Olevano using a sophisticated pencil technique; the subtle wash convincingly conveys the midday heat and surrounds the mountain peaks with a veil of haze. Presented with equal artistic finesse is a panoramic view of the city of Rome that includes the Aurelian Wall and the Pyramid of Caius Cestius. The steep dark Sabine Hills form a majestic and impressive backdrop. A view from the window with a view of the Quirinal, which bears the inscription Via Porta Pinciana No. 8, indicates that Ferdinand Marinus – like many of his fellow artists from abroad – lived in this street in the lively artists’ quarter around the Piazza di Spagna. After returning home Marinus founded the Namur Academy in 1835, which he ran until 1883.