A Fine Late 18thC Italian School Grand Tour Charcoal Study of Ganymede; Naples; 1797

SOLD

Origin: Italian School
Period: Neoclassical
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1797
The Study: 20.5” high x 14.25” wide
The Whole in Frame: 27.25” high x 20.5” wide

The well executed study of Ganymede, the Trojan youth, shown in profile at shoulder length, deftly worked in charcoals, surviving from the embers of the eighteenth century and signed lower right thus; ‘Eugenia W. Naples May 1797’; now presented in a good burr maple frame to a charcoal inset border.

The condition of the drawing overall is good. The edges of the archive paper are a little tatty and uneven, probably indicating this was drawn as part of a larger sketchbook and removed. Please view the photographs for a visual reference to the works condition.

The execution here is rather good, with the use of shadow and light being used very effectively, though we cannot find any details on the artist, with only her first name to go on, she was obviously a very capable hand, and possibly an art student at the time. Ganymede is shown wearing a Phrygian cap typically worn by various people on the west coast of Turkey (and very occasionally by Amazons - sometimes Penthesilaea is shown wearing one for example). Ganymede was a Trojan youth abducted by Zeus, disguised as an eagle, to be cup-bearer to the gods on Olympus. Any public house you may find in the world that is named the Eagle and Child is based on this story with possibly the most famous one being in Oxford being J.R.R. Tolkien's favourite pub.

The year of 1797 in Italy saw it embroiled in the Napoleonic wars. Austria, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, and Naples formed a coalition against France, which was joined by Britain on June 22nd 1799.  Napoleon Bonaparte, at that time, was stuck with his army in Egypt. The British fleet, under Lord Nelson, had destroyed the French fleet at Abukir, thus cutting off Napoleon's communication with France. Naples mutinied against the Austrian commander of her own army; the commander surrendered himself to the French, who took Naples, establishing the Pathenopean Republic. This satellite republic, however, was very short-lived, as the French troops were needed in the north and rebels under Cardinal Ruffo di Calabria, supported by the British Navy under Admiral Nelson, expelled the Republicans and the French.

This beautiful and quite large study is unusual in that it was executed by a woman and is signed and dated, which elevates it above any other similar examples seen on the market.

With thanks to Andrea Swinton

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