Landscape with a Shepherd Couple and their Dog – Circa 1720.
Pierre Salomon Domenchin de Chavanne was a French painter-academician of landscapes and scenes with figures. Born in Paris in 1672, little is known about the artist before 1709, when he was received at the Royal Academy as a landscaper (his reception piece is currently kept in Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts). From then on, he was commissioned works for the royal residences, in particular that of Versailles, in 1709, and that of Fontainebleau, in 1737. Between these two dates, his style underwent a transformation. Well known to landscape artists, the old process of separating foreground and background to suggest the spatial recession had in fact given way to a search for visual unity. The other notable change is the craftsmanship of Domenchin de Chavanne's works, taking on a sketchier quality over time. The “Landscape with Harvesters” in the Magnin Museum collection in Dijon is representative of this almost unfinished appearance of the painter's later works.
In France, from the 1670s to the turn of the 18th century, the landscape genre was significantly marked by the heroic landscape style of Nicolas Poussin. More generally, the landscapes of Domenchin de Chavanne are remarkable in that they lack the constituent elements of heroic landscapes. This transformation also affects the figures: rather than introducing an ancient discourse or even washerwomen, Domenchin de Chavanne rather imagines a shepherd or shepherdess, sometimes accompanied by a flock, leading to the creation a bucolic atmosphere.
The authorship of this landscape can be recognized by the way the artist painted the tree foliage, which lets light shine through the branches and leaves. Typical of his work is also this relegated light effect in the background, with the resulting backlight effect. But the more suggestive rather than descriptive quality to this painting would lead us to consider it one of the artists later works, carried out perhaps in the 1720s. In a sales catalog dated April 10, 1776, in Paris (Lugt 2526), under reference #26, a painting by Domenchin de Chavanne is described as follows: “a landscape consisting of two shepherds and their dog near them", which quite possibly alludes to the painting in question.
Domenchin de Chavanne died in Paris on December 23, 1744.
Special thanks to François Marandet for his research and attribution.
Source: Expository report - François Marandet, PhD in Art History, academic writer, conference speaker, exhibit curator, specialist in 17th - 18th century French painting.
Artist: Pierre Salomon Domenchin de Chavanne (1672-1744).
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Condition: Very good condition. Relined.
Dimensions: 57 x 43 cm. / 22 ½ x 17 in.
Frame: 68 x 55 cm. / 26 ¾ x 21 ½ in. Gilt wood, original. Good condition.