Franois [Franz] Keiserman
Yverdon 1765-1833 Rome
Peasants Harvesting Grapes

Signed, dated and inscribed F Keiserman. Roma. 1803, black chalk, pen and brown ink and watercolour, pen and black ink framing margins

324 x 444 mm (12 3/4 x 17 1/2 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 watercolours are typical examples by the artist and are closely comparable to a group that were sold at auction in 2009.2

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

2.New York, Sothebys, Old Master Drawings, 28 January 2009, lots 150-155.