Jean-Pierre-Laurent Houel

View of the Rocks on the Third Island of Cyclops

View of the Rocks on the Third Island of Cyclops
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Jean-Pierre-Laurent Houel
Landscape, Drawings, Gouache, outlined with brush in black wash, 28.5x42 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.

These works reveal Houel to have been not only a talented artist but also a historian, ethnographer and geologist. In this work Houel carefully reproduced all the specific characteristics of basalt cliffs, standing out clearly against the blue sky and sea, whilst in the foreground he showed the local inhabitants busy fishing. Based on his own observations and on detailed questioning of the fishermen themselves, Houel depicted the different means used to capture the local varieties of fish - tuna, sardines, anchovies and mullet.

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

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