Pierre Henri Theodore Tetar van Elven - inv. 40

Pierre Henri Théodore Tetar van Elven (1831-1908)

View of a Town with a church in the Background
19th century, second half
watercolour on paper  
50 x 40,7 cm
"Pierre Tetar van Elven"
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 40

This charming townscape is enhanced by the contrast between the full light of the sun ‘captured’ on the stones of the walls and the areas in shade. The result is an almost monochrome colouring results, enlivened by small touches of colour in the fabrics hanging over the banisters. The more graphical and staccato brushstroke in the foreground becomes looser and more fluid in the background, endowing the scene with a dream-like quality.

The subject and style are typical of Pierre Tetar van Elven, a Dutchman by birth, who lived abroad from about 1861, also in Italy. His views – sometimes of Dutch towns – are often imaginary, although inspired by known places. In this particular case, the shapes of the church might indicate a French town. The northern-style background is recognisable here, even though it is a clearly romantic image, although realistic to a certain extent, and links up with the Dutch genre tradition (notice the woman and child in the foreground).

The artist also painted historical subjects and landscapes, some of which are in various Italian museums (for example, Visita ai colerosi di Napoli in the Museo del Risorgimento in Milan or Primo parlamento italiano in the Modern Art Gallery in Turin).