JACQUES FÉLIX DUBAN

Section of One of the Championnet Houses at Pompeii Sold

Watercolour and pencil.
Inscribed A. and POMPEIA at the top of the sheet and Coupe d’une des maisons Championnet dans son etat actuel. / Sur une echelle de 0,010 p.m. at the bottom of the sheet.
Further inscribed citerne(?) and perle(?) douce.
255 x 411 mm. (10 x 16 1/8 in.)

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This watercolour may be dated to Félix Duban’s time in Italy, when he made numerous studies of the interiors and exteriors of the newly excavated buildings and houses of Pompeii. As the contemporary critic Charles Blanc noted at the time of the 1872 exhibition, ‘L’impression qui firent sur Duban ses etudes à Pompeii fut vive et profonde; elle ne s’effaça plus.’ Three albums of architectural drawings by Duban from this period, entitled Italie, Rome and Pompeii, are today in the library of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

The so-called Championnet houses at Pompeii were excavated in 1799, during the Napoleonic period, and are particularly notable for the marble paving, known as opus scutulatum, of the atrium, as well as the painted wall decorations of the interiors. The excavation of the two houses, located side by side in the southern quarter of Pompeii, was initiated under the supervision of General Jean Etienne Vachier, called Championnet, the commander of the French army in Naples, for whom the houses were named. Duban made a number of drawings of the Championnet houses at Pompeii, all of which are to be found in an album in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. These include a closely related watercolour of a longitudinal section of the same house, together with details of the paving of the atrium and the decoration in other parts of the interior. Other drawings of the Championnet houses in Duban’s Pompeii album at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts include a study of the ground plan of the two houses, a detail of the mosaic pavement of the peristyle of one of them, and two drawings of the polychrome mural decorations for which the Championnet houses were particularly renowned. All of these drawings, like the present sheet, may be dated to between 1824 and 1825, not long after Duban’s arrival in Italy.

The present sheet was in the collection of the French architectural historian Roger Rodière (1870-1944). Rodière owned at least one other drawing by Duban of the same period; a study of a section and floor plan of the House of Diomedes at Pompeii.

Provenance:
Roger Rodière, Montreuil (his collector’s mark, not in Lugt, stamped in black ink on the verso)
The Artis Group, New York, in 1985.

Literature:
New York, The Artis Group Ltd., Architectural Drawings 1700-1930, 1985, unpaginated, no.33, illustrated.

Jacques Félix DUBAN

Section of One of the Championnet Houses at Pompeii

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