Shannon's Fine Art Auctioneers

American (1808-1890)
oil on canvas, signed with artist's monogram, dated and inscribed lower right "JC 1872 Roma," signed, titled, dated and inscribed on the reverse "For Charles Crocker, Esq., Sacramento, CA, Rome 1872"
37 x 59 3/4 inches (oval)

Provenance: Private Collection, Switzerland; By descent to the current owner, Private Collection, New York.

Other Notes:
Most famed for creating one of the four monumental murals commissioned for the United States Capitol Rotunda (Baptism of Pocahontas, 1840), John Gadsby Chapman was also well-known for his landscapes of Italy's Campania region, where he lived for many years.

Chapman was born in Alexandria, Virginia and studied locally with the artists George Cooke and Charles Bird King before his formal studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He first became enamored with the Italian coast and its peoples when he lived in Rome from 1828-1831, studying classical painting and drafting techniques. Following his time in Rome, Chapman lived and worked in in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia before settling in New York in 1834. He became a highly successful illustrator and painter, earning full academician status at the National Academy of Design. In the 1840s, he was given the Capitol Rotunda commission as well as the project of creating over 1,400 engravings for Harper's illuminated edition of the Bible (The Illuminated Bible, 1846). He also authored a highly popular instructional book on drawing for both amateurs and professionals titled The American Drawing Book (1847).

Despite his artistic success in New York, Chapman experienced some financial woes and heartbreaking family losses during these years. In 1848, he returned to Italy with his remaining family, living first in England, Paris, and Florence before settling in again in Rome in 1850. Up until the American Civil War, Chapman was very successful at painting scenes of the Campania coast for the constant flow of tourists and Grand Tour travelers who made their way through Italy. Unfortunately, the war years put a damper on this flow of travelers and in the 1860s Chapman again found himself in difficulties. He persevered for many years, but finally returned the United States in 1884 where he lived in New York with his sons Conrad Wise Chapman and John Linton Chapman. Both sons also became painters. Chapman died in New York in 1890.

A similar, smaller work with the same view of the present example is currently held in The Johnson Collection in Spartanburg, South Carolina, dated 1870 and titled The Bay of Naples. Sorrento is inscribed to Charles Crocker of Sacramento, California and dated 1872 which places the painting in the famous railroad family's possession, possibly having been painted for Charles Crocker by request. The setting is an idyllic long view of the Amalfi Coast facing north to Vesuvius. A beautifully detailed pastoral scene on the right highlights the breathtaking cliffside road traversed by a herd of goats and their caretakers. The deceptively calm blue waters of the Bay of Naples rest under a faintly smoking Vesuvius in the distance. The full scene encapsulates the very heart of the region with Vesuvius's remarkable presence against the jewel-like beauty of the Amalfi Coast and its everyday activities - a perfect memento of the region by a 19th century painter renowned in his time.

tags: European, Volcano, Vesuvius, Bay of Naples, oil painting, 19th century, Grand Tour

  • Condition: Canvas: Unlined
    Condition: Very Good
    Restoration: None
    Frame: Original
    Slight stretcher bar mark in center, slight crazing throughout

    Framed dimensions - 45 3/4 x 67 x 3 1/4 inches

    In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation.


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As a convenience to the Buyer, Shannon's LLC will make a referral
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April 29, 2021 6:00 PM EDT

Milford, CT, US

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