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22 excellent watercolour views of rocky sea-coasts in New Caledonia & Peru

ROMIEUX, Osmond.
[Watercolour views of sea-coasts in New Caledonia and Peru].
[New Caledonia & Peru], [1855/60?]. Album: full-sheet leaves (oblong 1mo) (39.5 × 52.5); drawings: oblong folio and oblong 4to. An album with 21 watercolour drawings on paper with views of sea coasts from the shore (24 × 31 cm to 29.5 × 46.5 cm), one with a 22nd watercolour drawing on the back with a similar view, and one with about 15 human figure drawings in graphite pencil on the back. All bear the artists stamp on the front (Lugt 3703) and 4 are signed or initialled by the artist. Richly gold- and blind-tooled green goatskin morocco, white watered silk endleaves. 21 album ll. with 1 drawing mounted on each recto.
€ 18,000
A richly gold- and blind-tooled album (ca. 1850/56) containing 22 excellent and detailed watercolour views of rocky sea coasts, all or nearly all in New Caledonia and Peru (plus 1 graphite pencil drawing of about 15 human figures), the coastal views made from the shore. All were executed by Osmond Romieux (1826-1908), a leading amateur artist who made them during his tours of duty as a French naval officer. At least 18 have a pencil note on the back identifying the location: 15 "Nouvelle Caledonie", 2 "Pérou" (drawings 18, 20) and 2 "Callao" in Peru (drawings 17, 18). We have found no location indicated on drawings 3 (with views on both sides), 8 and 19 (with figure drawings on the back). Most of the drawings were made from the sea shore, looking out over both the sea and the nearby coasts, nearly all with rocky cliffs or outcroppings and some with trees or other plants. Many were made along bays or inlets where one can see the coast on both sides and the water in one view. Some show fortifications or other buildings, a few show boats in the water or on the shore and several show people on the shore, all or nearly all in European dress. Drawings 2, 8, 15 and 17 are signed or initialled by the artist.
We have not identified the "A.L." who apparently acquired these watercolours and had the album made in the 1850s: Lugt lists several French collectors with those initials active at the time. One watercolour has a small corner torn off at the lower right, another is slightly frayed along the right edge and the one on thin wove paper is very slightly browned, but the watercolours are otherwise in very good condition. The binding may have been expertly rebacked, preserving the original backstrip, but so unobtrusively that one must wonder if the binding was originally made that way. It is further in very good condition and even the folder is only slightly rubbed. A lovely and finely executed series of large watercolour drawings of the coasts of New Caledonia and Peru, probably made in the 1850s and mounted in a stunning gold - and blind-tooled contemporary album. For Romieux: Lugt 3703; for Giroux: Fléty, p. 82; Ramsden, p. 94.
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