This painting depicts a waterfall in the Auvergne, although it was painted in Italy. It embodies the vigorous naturalist aesthetic that distinguishes Michallon’s achievement from much of the tepid Neoclassicism of the early nineteenth century.
Until the bulk of Michallon’s work was brought to light in 1930, the artist’s role as one of the creators of the new school of landscape painting was obscured by the renown of his pupil Camille Corot. Historians were compelled to change their view when the source of Corot's vision became apparent in the work of the young artist who had first taught him how to paint.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): MICHALLON / 1818
comte Charles Pierre de L'Espine, Paris (until d. 1821; probably acquired from the artist); possibly his widow, comtesse Félicité Alexandrine Hélène de L'Espine, Paris (1821–d. 1849); their son vicomte Alexandre-Emile de L'Espine, Paris (from 1821 or 1849); private collection, Paris; [Didier Aaron, New York, until 1994; sold to MMA]
London. Tate Britain. "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism," February 5–May 11, 2003, no. 134 (as "Waterfall at Mont-Doré, Auvergne").
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism," June 8–September 7, 2003, no. 134.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism," October 7, 2003–January 4, 2004, no. 134.
Inventaire C[harles]. P[ierre]. de L'Espine. December 19, 1821 [Archives nationales, Paris, minutier central, Étude XXIX, 871; published in Lacambre 2005, p. 63], describes it as "vue de la cascade du mont d'or, paysage peint par Michallon prisé soixante-dix francs ci . . . 70" (view of the waterfall of Mont d'Or, landscape painted by Michallon valued at 70 [francs]).
Vincent Pomarède and Blandine Lesage inAchille-Etna Michallon. Ed. Vincent Pomarède. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1994, p. 180, no. 39, as "Cascade au Mont-Dore," locates it on the Paris art market; state that the label on the back of the canvas reads "Vte de L'Espine no. 236"; note that Jacques Salmon's [sic for Salomon?] painting "Quereuilh. Cascade au Mont-Dore" (Musée d'art Roger-Quilliot, Clermont-Ferrand) is a copy of this work.
Jill Hoffer Dienst et al. Didier Aaron: Catalogue. Paris, 1994–95, unpaginated, no. 19, ill. (color), call it "Rivère, cascade et chûte d'eau"; suggest that it was executed soon after Michallon's arrival in Italy; interpret the label on the back of the painting, which reads "Vte de L'Espine no. 236," as reflecting the lot number in the posthumous Michallon sale in 1822; state that it was purchased at the sale by the comte de L'Espine.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1994–1995." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53 (Fall 1995), p. 39, ill. (color), notes that it is one of the few finished works that the artist signed and dated; suggests that Michallon saw this waterfall in Auvergne on his way to Italy in 1817.
Blandine Lesage. "Achille-Etna Michallon (1796–1822). Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint." Gazette des beaux-arts 130 (October 1997), p. 115, no. 19, ill.
Patrick Noon in Patrick Noon. Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2003, p. 224, no. 134, ill. (color), dates it to shortly after the artist's arrival in Rome; relates it to his tree studies and competition essays of 1817.
Geneviève Lacambre. "Valenciennes et le milieu de la monnaie à Paris." Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, 1750–1819: Actes du colloque du 28 mai 2003. Portet-sur-Garonne, 2005, pp. 31, 63, 67 n. 34, identifies it in the posthumous collection inventory of Charles Pierre de L'Espine (see L'Espine 1821 under References) and suggests that it was inherited by his widow before passing to their younger son in 1849.
Stéphane Paccoud inUn siècle de paysages: Les choix d'un amateur. Ed. Stéphane Paccoud. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons. Paris, 2010, p. 152, compares it to "Scène champêtre avec personnages" by Charles Rémond (private collection).
There is a copy of this painting by Jacques Salmon, "Queureuilh. Cascade au Mont-Dore," in the Musée d'art Roger-Quilliot, Clermont-Ferrand.
Artist: Achille-Etna Michallon (French, Paris 1796–1822 Paris)Date: 1819Medium: Brush and brown wash over traces of black chalk. Framing lines in pen and brown ink.Accession: 1978.271On view in:Not on view