Six Topgraphical Watercolor Views of Spain, Italy, South America and the Islands in the Indian Ocean

March 25 2015, 11:52am

“View of Christmas Sound.” Carlton Hobbs LLC. The present set of six topographical views are accomplished watercolor renderings of scenes from across the globe, taken from various 18th century collections of engravings that illustrated travels throughout Europe and explorative voyages of distant lands. A caption below each image describes the view; four are in Dutch while two are in French. These vedute also bear leafs of paper with extensive notations in Dutch, and occasionally French, on the reverse describing each location, and  appear to have originally belonged to a larger series forming an unusual amateur atlas. “The identity of the artist is unknown, but it seems likely that he was a Dutchman of some means who owned or had access to a collection of the most important accounts of 18th century travel.” Reverse of the drawing of “Christmas Sound,” with extensive notes in Dutch. Carlton Hobbs LLC. Figure 1: “View of Christmas Sound” from Captain Cook’s Voyages. The first scene taken from Captain James Cook’s (1728-1779) voyages depicts the View of Christmas Sound on Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago off the southern tip of Chile and Argentina. The first European to visit the islands was the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520; he named the region for the many campfires of the indigenous Yaghan people he viewed from the sea. In December of 1774 Captain Cook arrived to the islands aboard the HMS Resolution during the return journey of his second voyage of discovery, designed to circumnavigate the southernmost parts of the globe. The crew spent Christmas in a bay on the western side of Tierra del Fuego, which they name Christmas Sound. The original view was executed by William Hodges (figure 1), who accompanied the crew as expedition artist, and whose sketches and paintings were adapted into engravings to be published along with Cook’s journals from the voyage. “View of Christmas Harbor.” Carlton Hobbs LLC. The second watercolor taken from Cook’s expeditions depicts A View of Christmas Harbour in Kerguelens Land. The Kerguelens Islands are a group of islands in the southern Indian Ocean, first discovered in 1772 by the French navigator Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen-Trémarec. Four years later, Cook visited the archipelago on his third expedition to the pacific, again aboard the HMS Resolution. He landed on the main island on Christmas Day in 1776, thereby naming the site Port Christmas (or Christmas Harbor). The islands boast a variety of flora and fauna, notably a large population of king penguins. The present scene, depicting the harbor as well as the killing of penguins on the coast, was originally drawn by the English artist John Webber, who accompanied Cook on his third pacific expedition, and was later engraved in London around 1785 by Alexander Hogg for  “Anderson’s Large Folio Edition of the Whole of Capt. Cook’s Voyages, Etc. Complete” (figure 2). Figure 2: “View of Christmas Harbor” from Captain Cook’s Voyages. The third view, depicting Neptune’s Grotto in Tivoli, derives from a work by Pietro Parboni (1783-1841), an Italian engraver who specialized in Roman views (figure 3). The greatest attraction in the ancient town of Tivoli, near Rome, was the falls of the Teverone River (today the Aniene), which precipitate down into an abyss of arches and caverns called Neptune’s Grotto. The winding staircase that provides access to the grotto was constructed in 1809 by General Miollis, the French governor of Rome. The violent spray of the river precipitating itself downward combined with rocky arcades and vegetation create a beautiful and sublime attraction for visitors to the environs of Rome. “Neptune’s Grotto in Tivoli.” Carlton Hobbs LLC. Figure 3: Engraving of Neptune’s Grotto by Pietro Parboni.

The final three vetdute illustrate sites in Spain, the first being a View from one side of the Alameda of Cadiz. The port city of Cadiz in southwestern Spain “is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in Western Europe.” It served as an important port for the Spanish Treasure Fleet from the 16th-18th centuries and and the Spanish Navy since the 18th century. Cadiz experienced a golden age in the 18th century as a result of Spanish trade with the Americas, making it a wealthy and cosmopolitan city. The view in the present watercolor is taken from a compendium of French prints entitled Recueil; Choix de vues d’optique des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. This particular print appeared in Volume 5: Great Britain and Spain (figure 4). The folio on the reverse of this watercolor, in addition to notes on Cadiz, bears an impressed shield with what appears to be the letter “C” at its center. “View from one side of the Alameda of Cadiz.” Carlton Hobbs LLC. Figure 4: An eighteenth century French engraving of the Alameda of Cadiz

The next watercolor portrays the ancient Roman city of Segovia, in the region of Castile and Leon in present-day Spain. In particular, it is a “View of the Segovia Aqueduct, with the Market Place called del Azoguejo Shown.” The defining feature of the town is the aqueduct, seen in the background of the watercolor, which is thought to have been constructed in the 1st century AD. It towers above the Plaza Azoguejo, seen in the foreground, which served as the old market square of the city. Segovia became an important center in the wool and textile trade due to its advantageous position on commercial routes, experiencing its peak in the Middle Ages with the development of a powerful cloth industry. The watercolor relates to an engraving by Juan Minguet, 1757 in the Calcografia Nacional, Madrid (figure 5). “View of the Segovia Aqueduct, with the Market Place called del Azoguejo Shown.” Carlton Hobbs LLC. Figure 5: Engraving of the Segovia Aqueduct by Juan Minguet, 1757. The last view in the present set depicts the “Monument on the Guadarama in Spain.” In the mid 18th-century, under Ferdinand VI, construction began on a modern road from Segovia to Madrid, crossing the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama to connect the northern half of the peninsula with the southern. At the summit, a carved stone monument was erected to commemorate the opening of the road. Known by many names including the Alto de Léon, it depicts a lion clutching two terrestrial globes, prepresenting Spain’s dominance over the two worlds of Europe and the Americas, standing at 7meters high. The most closely-related source appears to be a drawing by Louis Albert Guislain Bacler d’Albe (1761-1824) (figure 6). Bacler d’Albe was a French general who accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on military campaigns. He captured a number of views on two journeys to Spain between 1809-1809, during the War of Independence (1808-1814). Although he arrived with the intention of obtaining topographical sketches and documents of interest, he produced a series of landscape drawings, which were later compiled in two volumes of prints published between 1819 and 1822. The reverse of this watercolor bears a sheet of paper with a brief description of the monument in French above a table written in Dutch listing fifteen kingdoms and 32 provinces of Spain, along with the number of inhabitants in each province. Spain had been divided into these provinces during the Peninsular War, which lasted form 1807-1814. “Monument on the Guadarama in Spain.” Carlton Hobbs LLC. Figure 6: Related drawing of the monument by Albert Guislain Bacler d’Albe. Reverse of the drawing with notes and tables in French. Carlton Hobbs LLC.

It was recently discovered that there exists an additional group of six views by the same artist in the collection on Donald Heald, NY. This second set depicts scenes in Kamchatka and Siberia in the late-18th century (figure 7). The watercolors of this collection “show scenes of village and seaside life as originally depicted in…the plates from the atlas to James Cook’s third voyage, the atlas to the voyage of Gavrila Sarychev, and the account of Jean Chappe ‘Auteroche’s travels to Siberia in the early 1760s.” One of the pictures from this set contains a manuscript carrying the date 1808, however no other dates or any signature exist to identify the artist. Figure 7: Another group of six views depicting Kamchatka and Siberia by the same artist in the NY art trade.