Attributed to Charles-Francois Grenier, dit Lacroix de Marseille
Sold for $5,500
(French, ca. 1700-1782)
"Pecheurs dans des Rochers pres d' un Petit Port"
oil on canvas
partially signed/inscribed "Lac..." lower right and identified in old French script on stretcher.
19" x 23-1/4", framed 22-3/4" x 26-7/8"
Provenance: Private collection; thence by descent.
Notes: Charles Francois Grenier de Lacroix, also known as Lacroix de Marseille, was a prolific 18th-century landscape/seascape painter, who specialized in capriccio scenes, characterized by fantasy landscapes and seaports with Roman ruins, fishing boats and staffage. Little is known of his early years. Born in Marseille, Lacroix is believed to have apprenticed with Claude Joseph Vernet, traveling in Rome with him in 1750, and 1751 where he gained international recognition after he copied four of Vernet's paintings for Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, 1st Baronet, with near identical bravura as Vernet - the hand reportedly indistinguishable aside from the signature. After Vernet was summoned back to France in 1753 by Louis XV for a royal commission, Lacroix remained in Rome for nearly a quarter of a century, creating a lucrative career in capriccio scenes for wealthy patrons that further aggrandized the Grand Tour, working under the name Della Croce and Lacroix de Marseille.
The work offered here exhibits many of the key characteristics associated with Lacroix's mature oeuvre, notably the rocky bluffs with natural or carved arches offset by low horizons and wide expansive skies, deep ultramarine blue and green reflective seas seamlessly integrated with diminutive maritime trade in warm colors of ochre and brown. The work is vaguely reminiscent of French and Italian Mediterranean harbors, yet idealized and intimate. As Vernet notoriously stated about his seascapes and the genre he imparted to his followers and pupils: "Others may know better how to paint the sky, the earth, the ocean; no one knows better than I how to paint a picture."
**Surface dirt and toning to varnish layer. Signs of inpainting upper right sky by cliffs; along top edge; upper right and upper left edges; mid left center in sky by boat (which corresponds to patch en verso); upper/mid left cliff, center right in sky and clouds; smaller scattered other areas lower right, center and mid left. Area of paint loss mid left by edge. Some signs of bloom mid right.
Gilt frame with surface marks, nicks and abrasions. Some separation at corners.