Franois Keiserman
A Mother and Child seated on a Rock, a Man asleep beside them

Signed in pen and brown ink Keiserman. [lower right], black chalk, pen and brown ink and watercolour, pen and black ink framing margins.

The condition of the drawing is: a very minor trace of foxing, however, the drawing has been recently conserved. The ink and watercolour are fresh with the paper in very good condition. Drawing is not laid down, with the upper margins of the drawing hinged with conservation tape to a bespoke hand coloured blue wash conservation mount. Drawing is framed in an antique style, with single black moulding.

232 x 172 mm (9 1/8 x 6 3/4 in.)

Franz Kaisermann, also known by his French name Franois Keiserman, was born in Yverdon in Switzerland in 1765. After training as a landscape painter he moved to Rome in 1789. He came to the Papal city because of his fellow compatriot Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros (1748-1810) to assist in the preparation and finishing of the pictures in his studio. Ducros, who had an already established reputation, together with Giovanni Volpato, had a workshop which were supplying the demand for views of Rome from European clients visiting the city.

It is thought that Keiserman moved to Naples in 1793, which coincided with the anti-French uprising in Rome. In Naples it was most likely that he met with Jacob Philipp Hackert.

In 1798 Keiserman returned to Rome and took up residence at number 31 in Piazza di Spagna. He finally set up his own studio and during this time his popularity led him to being considered one of the top artistic figures in Rome. Between 1799-1803 he met the young Bartolommeo Pinelli (1781-1835) and began a successful collaboration with him, Keiserman concentrated on the landscape painting while Pinelli completed the artists figures, though in the present two pictures there is no suggestion that the figures are by Pinelli, they are complete autograph works by Keiserman. In 1806 Keiserman invited over from Switzerland his cousin Jean Franois Knbel as a figure painter, however Knbel died in 1822 and then Keiserman invited Charles Franois (1810-1877) who became his adopted son. Keisermans clients included noblemen such as Prince Camillo Borghese, Prince Gustav of Sweden and the Russian prince Volkonskij. Keisermans most popular subjects included the Waterfalls of Tivoli, the countryside around Colli Albani, ancient Rome and the temples in Paestum. Recent examples on the market include View of the Colosseum.1

Our group of watercolours are characterised in a fascinating article by Roberta Olson on Keiserman and Pinelli,

Kaiserman adopted Ducros method and developed it further. New evidence has recently surfaced to illuminate the various steps in Kaisermans creative process, which may also shed light on Ducros modus operandi. Just as Ducros landscape compositions (some engraved by Volpato) established models for Kaiserman, his early recordings of the ordinary inhabitants of Rome (popolani) and peasants (contadini) created the proototypes not only for this own assistants nut also for those individuals responsible for the figures populating Kasiermans landscapes as well as Pinellis charming watercolours and prints of costumes and customs (costume). 2

The present group of eight watercolours, all signed by Keiserman, clearly show the influence of Pinelli and are closely comparable to a group of similar figures by Pinelli that were on the art market in 2007.3

Keiserman must have seen this type of drawing by Pinelli, and these are dated 1806, and the prints of this subject matter were started in 1809, so it would be logical to date this group by Keiserman to around the first decade of the 19th century.

1.Rome, Paolo Antonacci, Landscapes of the Grand Tour, from the late 18th to the 19th century, June 2011, number 3.

2.Roberta J.M. Olson, Are Two Really Better than One? The Collaboration of Franz Kaiserman and Bartolommeo Pinelli, pp.195-226, Master Drawings, Volume XLVIII, Number 2, 2010.

3.See Crispian Riley-Smith, Drawings from 16th to 20th Century, 2007, numbers 70-73.