Jean Achille Benouville (French, 1815-1891)
oil on fabric, Framed: 43 x 60 x 6 cm (16 7/8 x 23 9/16 x 2 5/16 in.); Unframed: 28.1 x 44.7 cm (11 1/16 x 17 9/16 in.). Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1980.5
Located in the Mediterrean Sea, south of Rome, the island of Capri has been famous since Roman times for its spectacular scenery and mild climate. In the 19th century it became the home of many European nobles, and attracted artists from across the continent. Here Benouville captured the beauty of the island's rocky coastline, focusing his attention on a path leading toward the city of Capri and past the rocky outcropping of Monte Solaro.
Fascinated by the Italian landscape, Benouville spent years in Italy drawing and painting the countryside. From 1838 to 1845 he made at least three trips there, and in 1845, after winning the Prix de Rome-a fellowship allowing promising artists to study in that city-spent much of the next 25 years in Italy. Although trained to paint landscapes in a very formal manner, after leaving France Benouville began to paint his subjects with a much more personal, nontraditional approach. This may account for this picture's unusual composition, in which much of the canvas is given to indistinct, but beautifully painted stone, sky, and water.
London, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox. The Lure of Rome: Some Northern Artists in Italy in the Nineteenth Century (1979), no. 83, fig. 39.
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