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Work Landscape with Two Men Sitting near a Coppice

Department of Prints and Drawings: 16th century

Paysage avec deux hommes assis près d'un bosquet

RMN-Grand Palais - Photo M. Urtado

Prints and Drawings
16th century

Author(s):
Mancini Federica

This drawing is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the High Renaissance, and scholars are still uncertain as to whether it is the work of Campagnola or Giorgione. Owing to its exceptional graphic quality, it is thought to lie at the origins of the "paysage ordonné," a type of drawing that was given as a gift or collector's piece to other artists or art lovers. This preparatory drawing was the model for an engraving made by Giulio Campagnola and completed by Domenico, his adoptive son.

A landscape in its own right

The landscape genre, long considered inferior to the religious and secular genres, came to the fore beginning in the 15th century. This Landscape with Two Men Sitting near a Coppice illustrates this emergence of a genre in its own right: in no way does the scene focus solely on the two figures. On the front of the sheet, a landscape Fragment, a study for the drawing on the back, is proof of the attention given to this genre. A village with a rich architecture drawn at the top of a hill in the upper left corner opposes the rural buildings at the bottom. In the center of the scene but in the background, another small town stands at the foot of a mountain. On the right, two men sitting by a coppice hold musical instruments. The work features the elements typical of a pastoral landscape, inspired by arcadian literature. This type of literature developed in the 16th century, and works such as Jacopo Sannazzaro's Arcadia and Pietro Bembo's Gli Asolani had a decisive influence on artists. The true subject of the work, however, remains enigmatic.

Giorgione, Dürer, and Leonardo da Vinci

The drawing was executed in the mature period of Campagnola's life, between 1510, marking the death of the Venetian master Giorgione in whose circle Campagnola had worked, and 1516, the generally accepted year of his own death. His drawing style shows a number of influences. His knowledge of the late engravings of Albrecht Dürer can be seen in the techniques of hatching (the village) and cross-hatching (the wood). Giorgione's influence is apparent in the hazy light in the foliage of the trees, the subtle passages between light and dark, and in the mysterious signification of the scene. Lastly, the dry manner in which the landscapes - the one in the background for example - are represented may be a reaction to the soft tone adopted by Leonardo da Vinci, active in Venice in the early 16th century.

The disputed authorship of the "paysage ordonné"

This landscape was pricked to be used to make an engraving - Shepherds in a Landscape - on which Giulio Campagnola began work. But the plate was finished by his adoptive son, Domenico, who elected to replace the two seated men with four younger musicians. Often, the quality of an engraving does not match that of the preparatory drawing, which is the case here. The exceptional drawing style of this work, formerly attributed to Titian, has sparked a lively debate between art historians as to its author: Giulio Campagnola or Giorgione? According to Oberhuber, Giulio Campagnola was a good craftsman but not a genius capable of a masterpiece such as the Louvre "paysage ordonné." The question thus arises as to the inventor of this type of landscape, the typology of which was established by Domenico Campagnola. According to Châtelet, its composition is based on the direct transition of a foreground - a mere coppice - to a remote scene, which underscored the impression of unity in the represented space.

Bibliography

Goguel-Monbeig C., in Collections de Louis XIV : Dessins, albums, manuscrits, Musée national de l'Orangerie des Tuileries, BnF, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1977, p. 58-59, notice 14.
Châtelet A., "Domenico Campagnola et la naissance du paysage ordonné", in Interpretazioni Veneziane, Scritti di Storia dell'arte in onore di Michelagelo Muraro, Ed. Arsenale, Venise, 1984, p. 331-342.
Oberhuber K., "Le message de Giorgione et du jeune Titien dessinateurs", in Le Siècle de Titien : L'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1993.

Technical description

  • Giulio Campagnola (c. 1482-c. 1516)

    Landscape with Two Men Sitting near a Coppice

    After 1510

  • Pen and brown ink; pricked for transfer

    H. 13.4 cm; W. 25.9 cm

  • Everhard Jabach Collection; purchased for the Cabinet du Roi in 1671

    INV4648

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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