Rothschild, Charlotte Baroness de (1825-1899).
Italie. Souvenir d’un voyage de Nice à Génes par la Corniche. Vingt-trois de mes Dessins. Eaux-fortes. 1869.
Oblong folio (435x600 mm overall; 250x430 mm platemark). Title-page printed in red and black. Twenty-three mounted etchings. Contemporary dark brown shagreen, covers double-ruled. Spine with six raised bands, title lettered in gilt. Minor abrasions to covers, spine partially cracked. Generally the etchings are superb impressions.
Provenance: Baroness Charlotte de Rothschild (ex-libris 'Abaye des Vaux de Cernay. Nathaniel de Rothschild' on the front pastedown).
Extremely rare and charming series of etched views of areas between Côte d'Azur and Genoa, designed by the accomplished painter, amateur printmaker, and art collector Baroness Charlotte de Rothschild. A visual record of one of the great Romantic voyages pittoresques, the journey began in Nice and concluded in Genoa, with stops in Menton, San Remo, etc. From the Parisian branch of this immensely wealthy and cultured family, Charlotte studied watercolours under Eugène Lami, with whom she founded the Society of French Watercolour Painters. Her Parisian salon included such luminaries as Corot, Manet, and Chopin. Published in a small number of copies, strictly for distribution as gifts to family and friends, we have only located two institutional copies: at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Cabinet des Estampes, and at the Bibliothèque de Cessole in Nice.
The copy presented here has a very appropriate provenance, bearing her ex-libris on the front pastedown, with the inscription 'Abaye des Vaux de Cernay. Nathaniel de Rothschild'. The Baroness had bought the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay, located in the Chevreuse valley, in 1873, after the death of her husband, her English cousin Nathaniel Rothschild (1812-1870).
Most of the plates, as the title indicates, show harbours and coastlines from the viewpoint of the shore, although four are townscapes. The outlines of cities appear in some of the harbour plates as well; the emphasis falls on the romantic celebration of nature, with picturesque elements (fishermen, washer women) providing a sense of scale and enlivening the scenes. Unusually, the place names of the locales depicted are etched in the plate. Proximity is indicated by densely etched areas of black in the foreground, distance by a lighter and lighter line. The pitch-black areas are reminiscent of Manet, who most influenced the artist.
The album represents a quite unknown document, and a significant addition to the corpus of engraving by female artists.
Astengo-Fiaschini, nos. 55, 99, 122, 123, 132, 147, and 160; La route de Gènes. La riviera da Nizza a Genova nelle stampe romantiche francesi, nos. 58-59; M. Hall, “The English Rothschilds”, G. Heuberger (ed.), The Rothschilds: Essays on the History of a European Family, Rochester, NY 1994, pp. 265-286; P. Prévost-Marcilhacy, “Charlotte de Rothschild: artiste, collectionneur et mécène”, Histoires d'art, (2008), pp. 252-265; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 274.