CONRAD WISE CHAPMAN (AMERICA, 1842-1910), ATTRIBUTED, PARIS STREET SCENE SKETCHES / STUDIES, LOT OF TWO, watercolor and gouache on paper, comprising two depictions of building facades along the Rule Val-de-Grace. Unsigned. Loosely matted on board. Circa 1870. 3 1/2" x 5 3/4" and 3 1/2" x 8 3/4" sight, 20" x 15" OA. Provenance: Property deaccessioned from a Virginia institution to benefit the collections and conservation funds. Catalogue Note: Conrad Wise Chapman (1842-1910) was born in Washington, D.C. into what would become a family of artists. His father, John Gadsby Chapman (1808-1890), was an important 19th-century artist best known for his monumental oil on canvas (12' x 18'), "The Baptism of Pocahontas" (1842), a work commissioned by the U.S. Government and displayed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building. Flush with success, John Gadsby Chapman left the United States in 1848 with his family, including six-year-old Conrad, in tow in order to pursue his artistic career in Europe. Learning from his father in Italy, France, and other locations, Conrad developed his talents early and was producing highly accomplished Italian landscapes in his mid-teens. Wherever the family traveled under the direction of their father, Conrad went as well, learning from his experiences and painting what he saw along the way. In 1861, however, nineteen-year-old Conrad, caught up the Romantic enthusiasm of the era, returned to the United States to fight for the Confederacy, enlisting in the 3rd Kentucky Regiment. He was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and went on to see action in the lower South early in the war before his transfer to Charleston, South Carolina in 1863. In Charleston, now recognized by General P. T. Beauregard and his staff for his artistic talents, Conrad Chapman was commissioned to paint a series of views of the city's defenses in an attempt to ease concerns and bolster the morale of Charleston's inhabitants. Chapman was present at the city's siege later in the year, and a number of his works from his time in Charleston survive. The artist went on to record more scenes from his experiences during the Civil War before he was granted a six-month furlough in 1864 to return to Europe in order to visit with his ailing mother. By the time of his scheduled return to enlisted duty with the Confederate Army, the war had ended, and Chapman was left at something of a loss. Uncertain of his and his country's future, he traveled with Confederate sympathizers in Texas and Mexico (a place he would continue to visit throughout his life) before returning to Europe to continue his career as an artist. Conrad Chapman moved in 1898 with his family to Richmond, Virginia where he would remain until his death. The present examples likely date from the period after the war and the artist's time in Mexico when he had returned to Europe and was working at what many consider to be the height of his artistic powers. The present examples are a part of a large group of works by the artist that was given to a Virginia institution after the artist's death. The Museum of the Confederacy, the Virginia Historical Society, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, and many other institutions hold examples of Conrad Wise Chapman's work, and his value as an artist continues to grow.
The present example from Chapman's period in Europe demonstrates the artist focusing on aspects of the architecture along a stretch of the Rue Val-de-Grace in Paris, an area that he painted more than once.
Very good as-found condition with minor areas of staining and wear/trimmed elements to edges.