Francesco Zuccarelli R.A.
Pitigliano 1702-1788 Florence
A Landscape with Peasants and Cattle and Sheep beside a River

PROVENANCE: Iolo Williams (1890-1962), thence by descent.

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, watercolour heightened with white

277 x 430 mm. (10 7/8 x 17 in.)


Zuccarellis first teacher in Florence was the Roman landscapist Paolo Anesi. According to his biographer, Francesco Maria Tasi, when Zuccarelli moved to Rome in 1713-4 he was taught history painting by the Tuscans Giovanni Maria Mornadi and Pietro Nelli. In Rome Zuccarelli studied the landscapes of Claude Gelle and the contemporary painters Andrea Locatelli and Jan Frans van Bloemen. Zuccarellis first commission was for two altarpieces for his native town of Pitigliano in 1724. After only four years in Florence he moved to Venice, where he entered the studio of Sebastiano Ricci. From this time he mainly painted landscapes. In Venice his career grew rapidly working for the most famous collectors such as Marshal Schulenburg, Anton Maria Zanetti and Giambattista Albrizzi. His main patron was Consul Smith (1682-1770) who in 1752 persuaded him to move and to follow Canalettos example and move to London. Zuccarelli stayed in London for 15 years, with a break of 3 years, and painted many landscapes for collectors. Amongst them was the famous collector of drawings John Barnard (d.1784).

Zuccarellis drawings were rarely intended as studies for paintings and were highly prized. Our drawing is a characteristic drawing by the artist and can be compared stylistically to other coloured landscape drawings recently on the market, such A Landscape with Peasants and Castle near a Village from the collection of P. en N. de Boer1. It is interesting to note that Zuccarelli often signed his drawings with a gourd in the foreground, like our drawing and the one from the de Boer collection. The gourd was a pun on Zuccarellis name, gourd translates as zucca2 in Italian.

Our drawing was once in the collection of Iolo Williams who was a journalist, author and art historian. In 1920 he married Francion Elinor Dixon of Colorado and they had one son and two daughters. At first he worked as bibliographical correspondent for the London Mercury, and then as art and museums correspondent for the Times. He became an authority on the history of art in Britain and published a substantial and important book Early English watercolours, published in 1952. He was known as a discerning collector and friend of Edward Croft-Murray, who was Keeper of the Prints and Drawings department, 1954-1973. Williams gave over 80 drawings to the British Museum department of Prints and Drawings.

1.Old Master Drawings from the Stichting Collectie P. en N. de Boer, Christies London, 4 July 1995, lot 75.

2.I would like to thank Nol Annesley and Huon Mallalieu for pointing this out. Other drawings where Zuccarelli uses this signature are, The Collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Italian, French, English and Spanish Drawings and Watercolours, Sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, Hudson Hill Press, New York, 1992, no.68, p.137 and T. Pignatti, Disegni venetia del Settecento nel Muso Correr di Venezia, 1964, Venezia, no. 69.