“The drawings of this painter from Rouen
are of beautiful character,
full of sentiment, and make him really worthy
of the superb name he bore” (Chennevières).
A beautiful and unique collection reuniting 35 drawings
in ink and ink wash from Piranesi’s student
Étienne de La Vallée-Poussin.
La Vallée-Poussin, Etienne de [1735-1802]. Recueil de 35 dessins.
4to [277 x 200 mm (Drawings: 160 x 120 mm)] of 35 plates, drawings in ink and sepia ink wash.
Blond calf, large gilt border on the covers decorated with motifs and frieze in gilt, richly decorated flat spine, colored endpapers. Contemporary Roman binding.
A beautiful and unique collection reuniting 35 drawings in ink and ink wash from Etienne de La Vallée-Poussin, Piranesi’s student.
Born in Rouen in 1735, Étienne de la Vallée-Poussin is related through his mother to Nicolas Poussin.
He studies at the school of fine arts of Rouen and progresses rapidly. A three-time laureate of the school, he then goes to Paris to continue his training. Welcomed into the workshop of Pierre, the king’s painter, he receives, in 1757, the Rome prize and is sent to Italy. La Vallée-Poussin spends several years in Rome, and becomes a member of the Pontifical Academy of Arcadia.
La Vallée-Poussin lives in the Villa Mancini, a palace that has a privileged location in Rome, on the Corso (the former via Lata), a place where socialites like to be seen and where most of the festivities are organized. Across from the Villa Mancini lives Giovanni Piranesi.
A painter, engraver, architect, art dealer and tireless artist, he lives in the Academy of France, across from La Vallée-Poussin’s lodgings. A jealous and solitary man, Piranesi only surrounds himself with a few privileged individuals.
But, as of 1761, while he is restoring the Malte priory, Giovanni Piranesi hires Étienne de La Vallée-Poussin, who had bonded with his sons, students at the Academy of France.
Upon his graduation of the Academy of Arcadia after four years, La Vallée-Poussin decides not to go back to France but to stay in Rome and collaborates for the next ten years with Piranesi, who was starting to get old.
This continuous relation between the two men explains the strange dedication in the bottom right corner of the first drawing. In this inaugural drawing, a man, his weary face turned towards the sun, is crouched next to what could be a tombstone or a tomb, where one can read : « Figure originale de Giovanni Piranesi, Rome, 1777 ». In the background of the drawing some views of Rome can be seen, a landscape dear to Piranesi. What better way for La Vallée-Poussin to celebrate the artist, professor, model that was for him Giovani Piranesi, who, in 1777, is sick and weak and will die the following year ?
The relationship between the two artists and the genesis of this original Roman collection allow us to undoubtedly attribute this unsigned work to La Vallée-Poussin ; each individual drawing is sold for around 3 000 €.
Upon his return to France, La Vallée-Poussin is accepted in 1789 into the Académie de Peinture.
These 35 drawings, done in ink and sepia ink wash, are a series of superb character studies.
A magnificent and unique collection reuniting 35 drawings in ink and ink wash from Etienne de La Vallée-Poussin, the great Piranesi’s student, a testimony of the last years of the master, and preserved in its fine contemporary Roman binding, richly decorated.
Not often does one find a collection containing as many drawings that can be attributed to Etienne de La Vallée-Poussin, seeing as they are usually published separately. The only other collection known was elaborated in collaboration with other artists, Hubert Robert and Luigi Subleyras : Nella Venuta in Roma di Madame Lecomte e dei Signori Watelet e Copette (Rome, 1764). It contains 32 plates, etchings engraved by these three artists.