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Gabriel Ferrier
Sketchbook, with views in Italy
Graphite on paper
Given by Jane Roberts in memory of Marianne Joannides, 2008

Open to show f.6 r: Copy after part of Vittorio Carpaccio (1456-1526) St Jerome leads the lion to the monastery (1502), Scuola San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice.

Gabriel Ferrier worked mainly as a portraitist and as a decorator of public buildings (one of his ceiling paintings still survives in the restaurant of the Musée d'Orsay, another in the French Embassy in Berlin). He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and went on to become a Professor there, in a career during which he accumulated numerous honours, including, in 1906, the Légion d'Honneur.

In 1872, he won the coveted prix de Rome, which allowed him to travel to Italy to study for three years at the expense of the State. This sketchbook is one that he used during his stay, and contains mainly copies of paintings by Italian artists that he would have seen in churches and galleries in Venice. A copy of a portrait by his near-contemporary, Léon Bonnat (1833-1922) on one of the pages helps to date the sketchbook to c.1875, when Bonnat sent his painting (of Mme Pasca) to the annual Salon, and Ferrier had returned to Paris briefly to exhibit his own paintings there.

This is one of three drawings in the sketchbook that Ferrier made after Carpaccio's famous cycle in San Giorgio degli Schiavoni in Venice. Unusually, Ferrier has chosen to focus not on the foreground action, showing the monks fleeing St Jerome and the lion, but rather on the tranquil, beautifully articulated, background landscape and architecture.

Information provided by Hélène Klementz, to whom many thanks.


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