Coast scene, Rio de Janeiro thumbnail 1
Coast scene, Rio de Janeiro thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Coast scene, Rio de Janeiro

Oil Painting
1817 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Nicolas-Antoine Taunay (1755-1830) was born in Paris where he trained in the studio of Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié (1735-1784) and subsequently of Nicolas-Guy Brenet (1728-1792) and Francesco Casanova (1727-1803). He travelled in Europe and the patronage of Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809), the director of the Académie de France in Rome, enabled him to study in Rome in 1784-7. In January 1816 Nicolas Taunay, with his brother, the sculptor Auguste-Marie Taunay (1768-1824), went to Brazil to help found an Academy of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro. He was made a member of the Légion d'honneur in 1824.

This painting is a fine example of Taunay's output during his 5-year stay in Brazil between 1816 and 1821 and is part of a group of landscapes recording various Brazilian town views and sceneries around Rio de Janeiro. The luminous and light palette, harmonious composition and atmospheric sky are characteristic of landscape paintings fashionable under the Consulate and Empire.


Object details
Category
Object type
Additional titleScène maritime, Rio de Janeiro
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Oil painting, 'Coast Scene, Rio de Janeiro', Nicolas Antoine Taunay, 1817
Physical description
View of a bay under a large cloudy sky with mountains in the distance, a sailing boat reaching a ship on the far left; a group of rowing boats on the far right.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 45.7cm
  • Estimate width: 56.5cm
  • Frame height: 625mm
  • Frame width: 740mm
  • Frame depth: 85mm
Dimensions taken from C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Styles
Marks and inscriptions
'Taunay' (Signed on the sail of a boat on left.)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend
Object history
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868



Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of Taunay's output while he was in Brasil between 1816 and 1821. According to A. d'E. Tauney (1911) this painting dates from 1817. It depicts the bay of Rio de Janeiro under a large cloudy sky with a group of sailing and rowing boats in the foreground. The luminous palette and refined brushwork is still Neoclassical in vein and appears still under the influence of the Italianate landscape painters of the preceding generations

Taunay belongs to the generation of French painters whose art is representative of the taste under the Consulate and Empire. His landscapes usually show an atmospheric sky within a harmonious composition, which prefigure the emerging Romantic movement.

Comparable works include View of Rio de Janeiro Bay, 1816-1821, Palacios das Laranjeiras, Rio de Janeiro and View of Outeiro, Beach and Church of Gloria, Museus Castro Maya, Rio de Janeiro.
Historical context
19th-century French art is marked by a succession of movements based on a more or less close relationship with nature. At the beginning of the century, Romantic artists were fascinated by nature they interpreted as a mirror of the mind. They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious and the occult. This movement was heralded in France by such painter as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In its opposition to academic art and its demand for a modern style Realism continued the aims of the Romantics. They assumed that reality could be perceived without distortion or idealization, and sought after a mean to combine the perception of the individual with objectivity. This reaction in French painting against the Grand Manner is well represented by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) who wrote a 'Manifesto of Realism', entitled Le Réalisme published in Paris in 1855. These ideas were challenged by the group of the Barbizon painters, who formed a recognizable school from the early 1830s to the 1870s and developed a free, broad and rough technique. They were mainly concerned by landscape painting and the rendering of light. The works of Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña (1807-1876), Jules Dupré (1811-1889), Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) anticipate somehow the plein-air landscapes of the Impressionists.
Subjects depicted
Place depicted
Summary
Nicolas-Antoine Taunay (1755-1830) was born in Paris where he trained in the studio of Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié (1735-1784) and subsequently of Nicolas-Guy Brenet (1728-1792) and Francesco Casanova (1727-1803). He travelled in Europe and the patronage of Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809), the director of the Académie de France in Rome, enabled him to study in Rome in 1784-7. In January 1816 Nicolas Taunay, with his brother, the sculptor Auguste-Marie Taunay (1768-1824), went to Brazil to help found an Academy of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro. He was made a member of the Légion d'honneur in 1824.



This painting is a fine example of Taunay's output during his 5-year stay in Brazil between 1816 and 1821 and is part of a group of landscapes recording various Brazilian town views and sceneries around Rio de Janeiro. The luminous and light palette, harmonious composition and atmospheric sky are characteristic of landscape paintings fashionable under the Consulate and Empire.
Bibliographic references
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 100, cat. no. 218.
  • Moritz Schwarcz L. and Dias E. eds. Nicolas-Antoine Taunay no Brasil. Uma leitura dos tropicos Rio, 2008, p.
  • A. d'E. Taunay, 'A missão artistica 1816' in Revista do Instituto Historico e Geographico Brazileiro, 74, pt 1, 1911, repr. p. 112.
  • U. Thieme and F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler,, xxxii, 1938, p. 474.
  • Lebrun-Jouve, Cl., Nicolas-Antoine Taunay (1755-1830), Paris, 2003, p. 289.
  • Moritz Schwarcz, L., O Sol do Brasil. Nicolas-Antoine Taunay e as desventuras dos artistas franceses na corte de d. João, Sao Paulo, 2008, p. 257, fig. 1.
Collection
Accession number
1612-1869

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Record createdJanuary 16, 2007
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