Pair of European Landscapes

by François Louis Thomas Francia


DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 3.3 x 5 inches (8.4 x 12.7 cm)
MEDIUM: Watercolour



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    Catalogue No: 4737 Categories: ,

    In this wonderful pair of watercolours, François Louis Thomas Francia has depicted two different types of mountainous landscapes. In the first work, a house in the left foreground is seen perched atop a mountain with a man in red leading a horse to it. Another man in yellow is seen coming out of the brick house to join him. Despite the figures, the viewer’s attention is kept on the rocky landscape, with its unusual rock formation and growing tree. In the second work, a mountainous landscape of a different kind is depicted. Here the viewer is transported to the bottom of a mountain range, their peaks far away in the distance. In the middle foreground, a lake is glimpsed, two figures walking around its edge to an unknown destination. This pair of watercolours with their harmony of colour and subtle handling of paint evoke a poetic feeling for these unknown European landscapes.

    Private Collection, United Kingdom

    François Louis Thomas Francia (1772- 1839) was born in Calais in 1772 but was subsequently brought to London as a child by his father He commenced to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1795, and submitted between 1795 to 1821 eighty-five works. Francia was one of the founders, along with Thomas Girtin whom he had met at the Royal Academy, of the important landscape sketching club known as The Brothers in 1799. Six years later Francia set up as a drawing master in Kensington and soon after he became Painter in Watercolours to the Duchess of York.  He was also a member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours, and for some time its secretary, but he resigned his membership, and became in 1816 an unsuccessful candidate for the associateship of the Royal Academy. The next year he retired to Calais, where he resided till his death in 1839. It is in Calais that he taught Richard Parkes Bonington, his most famous pupil. Francia’s earlier drawings are broad and simple in execution, rich, but sombre in colour, like those of Girtin; but his later work, while still retaining its breadth and harmony, is brighter and lighter in tone, and more subtle in handling. Though he painted landscape of different kinds, his favourite subjects were coastal scenes, which he executed with great truth and beauty of aerial effect. He was an excellent draughtsman of boats and shipping, and some of his drawings were engraved to illustrate a book of sketches of shipping by E. W. Cooke. He was one of the earliest and most accomplished of water-colourists, and his works are distinguished by their fine colour and poetical feeling.


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