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Parkland with Garden Sculptures and a Round Temple. Pen and grey ink, grey wash. 47 x 62 cm.
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The surprising feature of this large and imposing work is the spontaneous, impetuous style of the drawing. The airy, luxuriant parkland has been dashed off with great verve and yet the depiction radiates light and atmosphere despite the economy of means employed – a sure sign that a very skilled and capable artist was at work.
The painter, draughtsman and etcher, Pierre Lelu, was a pupil of François Boucher and Gabriel François Doyen. In 1762 he went to Italy, where he mostly produced copies after Old Masters, returning to Paris in 1767. He is known to have spent time in Italy on two other occasions in 1775 and 1789. In 1775 Lelu also travelled to Spain and Portugal. While he became a member of the Academy in Marseilles in 1778, he was never admitted to the Académie Royale in Paris. Only a few of his paintings have survived, but the corpus of his drawings and especially of his prints is quite extensive. Large landscape drawings of this kind are rare in Lelu’s drawn oeuvre, however. The southern, painterly-style landscape with the silhouette of mountains on the horizon was undoubtedly inspired by one of the artist’s sojourns in Italy. Lelu may well have made the drawing after his return as a ricordo of his Italian journeys.