Alexandre Calame (1810 - 1864)

View of Bordighera Sold

Black chalk, brush and gray wash, heightened with white gouache, on dark blue paper.
Inscribed and dated Bordighera 27.7.58 and numbered 26 at the lower right.
149 x 215 mm. (5 7/8 x 8 1/2 in.)


This drawing is part of a now-dismembered sketchbook used by Calame in July and August of 1858, the contents of which have been partially reconstructed by Valentina Anker in her recent catalogue of the artist’s drawings. The drawings from this sketchbook, all on sheets of blue paper, are devoted to views and sites along the Italian and French Riviera, from Bordighera on the northwest coast of Italy westwards along the corniche to Menton, Villefranche and the island of Saint-Honorat, near Cannes. Unique among Calame’s sketchbooks in being devoted solely to coastal views, with the vibrant blue of the paper used to depict sea and sky, the drawings bear numbers up to 35, although only nineteen sheets are known today. Twelve of the drawings depict views in or near the Italian coastal town of Bordighera, a resort popular with English visitors and famous for its many palm trees. To judge from the dates inscribed on these drawings, Calame seems to have spent most of the month of July 1858 in the town. The present sheet - noted by Valentina Anker as ‘cette vision est sereine et pleine de vivacité’ – is a particularly fine example of Calame’s draughtsmanship, and was one of four drawings from the sketchbook drawn on the same day, the 27th of July, 1858.

Despite the fact that a large number of drawings and watercolours are noted both in Calame’s studio order book and in the catalogue of his 1865 studio sale, his drawings seem to have been difficult to find on the market. Indeed, as the artist noted in a letter to a dealer written in 1851, he did not have many drawings left in his studio and had determined not to part with any of them. The present sheet was among the drawings that Calame retained in his studio until his death, and remained in the possession of his descendants for many years afterward.

The artist’s wife, Amélie Müntz Berger, Geneva
By descent to the artist’s son, Arthur Calame, Geneva, by 1907
Marguerite Buscarlet-Calame, Geneva, in 1919
Louis Buscarlet, Geneva, by 1924
Daniel Buscarelet, Geneva, in 1942
Private collection, Switzerland
August Laube, Zurich, in 2008.

Valentina Anker, Alexandre Calame (1810-1864) dessins: Catalogue raisonné, Berne, 2000, p.366 and p.370, no.F9.

Alexandre CALAME

View of Bordighera


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