The Institut de France looking down Rue Mazarine, Paris

The Institut de France looking down Rue Mazarine, Paris



David Cox (1783-1859)
The Institut de France looking down Rue Mazarine, Paris

Watercolour over traces of pencil on laid paper
19.5 by 14.8 cm., 7 ¾ by 5 ¾ in.

By descent from the artist to his granddaughter Hannah Cox (1840-1909)

The Institut de France is on the Left Bank near the Ȋle de La Cité. Cox drew two sketches of bridges by the Ȋle de La Cité - `Near the Pont d'Arcole' in the Tate (see Scott Wilcox,
Sun, Wind, and Rain - The Art of David Cox, exhibition catalogue, 2008 no.45) and `Pont Neuf from the Quai de l'Ecole' in the Yale Center for British Art (Wilcox, op. cit., no.46). The Victoria and Albert Museum has a view of the Pont des Arts from the Quai Conti with the Louvre behind which is taken from near the Institut de France (Wilcox, op.cit., no.52).

This drawing dates from Cox's second trip to the Continent, and first to Paris, in the summer of 1829 in the company of his son and fellow artist David Cox Junior. In Paris they met their friend the Birmingham engraver John Pye who offered to be their guide. On their second day in the city, Cox badly sprained his ankle while descending stairs in the Palais Royal which incapacitated him throughout his six week stay. Undaunted, he hired a cab which he asked to stop when he found an interesting subject or view and sketched from inside the vehicle or occasionally from a chair. This may explain the rapid, unfinished nature of most of his Paris drawings which are some of his most impressive and sought after works. Stephen Duffy (op.cit., p.77) describes his French drawings from 1829 as `works of exceptional brilliance and vigour.'

The present watercolour is among the most rapid and impressionistic of all his Paris sketches. Stylistically it relates closely to a Paris street scene recorded in a private collection in 1973 (see N. Neal Solly,
Memoir of the Life of David Cox, 1973 reprint, illustrated on cover and as frontispiece).