(Paris 1754 - Paris 1826)
The Portico of the Pantheon, Rome
220 x 164 mm. (8 5/8 x 6 1/2 in.)
As has been noted of the artist, ‘His innumerable drawings, in various techniques of which watercolour seems to have been the favourite, have a scrupulous regard for accuracy which makes them of particular value as historical documents. His line may have something of the dry precision of an architect’s tracing, but this is relieved by his feeling for the picturesque, by his precise observation of minute details, and by the sense of atmosphere which he conveys with the clear light of his transparent washes.’
Furthermore, as Pierre Rosenberg and François Bergot have written, ‘Nicolle appears to have been sensitive to the charms of ancient ruins as to the picturesque qualities of street scenes in a Rome where the past and present are felicitously interwoven, in a calm, deserted Rome, bathed in a streak of morning light.’
Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) worked for thirty years at the Toledo Museum of Art, becoming its director in 1959, and is credited with establishing the museum’s collection as one of the finest in America. On his retirement from Toledo in 1977, he served as a trustee, consultant and curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, between 1979 and 1989.
Possibly his sale (‘Victor-Jean Nicolle: Dessins, Aquarelles, Gouaches…Provenant d’un album appartenant à Monsieur J. C. J.’), Paris, Hôtel Drouot [Ader], 5 November 1953, lot 87 (‘Le peristyle du Panthéon’ Aquarelle. 19,5 x 13,5.’)
Otto Wittmann, Montecito, CA.