Jean-Pierre-Laurent Houel

View of the Island of Vulcano from the Island of Lipari

View of the Island of Vulcano from the Island of Lipari
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Jean-Pierre-Laurent Houel
Landscape, Drawings, Gouache, outlined with brush in black wash, 29.5x42.5 cm
Origin: France, Between 1776 and 1779

Houel is best known as the author of preparatory sketches and engravings with an explanatory text to the multi-volume publication A Picturesque Voyage Through the Isles of Sicily, Malta and Lipari, Which deals with the Antiquities to still be found there, the principal phenomena offered by Nature, the Costume of the Inhabitants, and some customs... . The Hermitage possesses 264 of over 500 sketches Houel produced during his tour of Southern Italy between 1776 and 1779.

Capturing the appearance of Southern Italy in great detail, these works are of unique historical and ethnographical value. The Island of Vulcano, which Houel showed in this work, was in fact an accumulation of rocks of volcanic origin. The foreground of the painting is enlivened by a genre scene with cows at pasture and peasants working the land. The artist's skill in fitting little figures into the landscape created a scene which retains the freshness of a first impression.

Source of entry: acquired for Catherine II from the artist, 1782/1783

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