“Akvædukten i Arcueil”. The Aqueduct in Arcueil. 1812. Signed E. Oil on canvas. 32.5×40.5 cm.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the French Queen Marie de Médici had a Florentine engineer, Tommaso de Francini, construct the aqueduct in Arcueil. The Queen wanted the fountains in the magnificent park around the Queen's palace, Palais de Luxembourg, in Paris, to have an abundant supply of water. The small town of Arcueil is situated three kilometers south of Paris in a valley at the river Bièvre. It is this 'Aqueduc de Marie de Médicis', that Eckersberg has painted here diagonally in faultless perspective on the right of the painting, before another aqueduct between 1868 and 1872 was superimposed above the aqueduct from the 17th century, as we know it today.
Emil Hannover, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of C. W. Eckersberg no. 120.
C.W. Eckersberg writes in his diary 10 December 1812 (in Danish): “completed the small piece of Arcueil”.
Eckersberg also mentioned the painting several times in letters from Paris to the Danish copper engraver J.F. Clemens. On 12 October 1812 – i.e. before he noted in his diary in December that the painting was completed – Eckersberg wrote the following (in Danish): “To Counsellor Bugge I have a small piece: the aqueduct in Arcueil.” Shortly before leaving Paris and moving on to Rome, Eckersberg described in a letter dated Paris 1 June 1813, how he packed and numbered the works he had made in Paris to prepare them for the transport home to Denmark. He wrote of the present painting as well (in Danish): “No. 8–9, two small pieces where one is of the aqueduct in Arcueil a mile from Paris, and the second is the port in Bois de Boulogne to Longchamps, which is partially seen beyond the gate, the horizon is limited by Mont Calvére. These are painted for Counsellor Bugge.” (“C. W. Eckersberg Dagbog og Breve, Paris 1810–13” (C.W. Eckersberg Diary and Letters from Paris 1810–13), published and annotated by Henrik Bramsen, Copenhagen 1947, p. 99 and p. 136).
In 1810 Eckersberg travelled to Paris, where he remained for three years and was a student of Jacques-Louis David from 9 September 1811 to 20 October 1812. In June 1813, he travelled to Italy and Rome, where he stayed for the next 3 years before returning to Denmark. His years in Paris and Rome, and not least his apprenticeship with David, were of immense importance to Eckersberg’s further development and education as an artist.
In his diary from Paris, Eckersberg described numerous excursions around the French capital and to the surrounding areas. This included places such as Meudon, St. Cloud, Bois de Boulogne and Arcueil, where he sought out beautiful and interesting motifs for his paintings, and from which he created numerous drawings and sketches. The National Gallery of Denmark, for instance, has a drawing from Arcueil dated 1811. In this drawing Eckersberg has drawn the aqueduct and the laundresses as he did in the present painting (inv. no. KKS382).
Eckersberg made very few views from Paris in oil. In addition to the painting here, there are two at the National Gallery of Denmark: “View from Pont Royal from Quai Voltaire in Paris” (inv. no. KMS1624) and “View from Meudon Castle near Paris” (inv. no. KMS1623). Another can be found at The David Collection (see below).
The painting here is the pendant to “La Porte de Longchamps in the Bois de Boulogne” and also dated 1812 (Hannover no. 121) (The David Collection, inv. no. 16/1969, bought for DKK 92,000 at Bruun Rasmussen auction 231, 1969 no. 7). The same elegant couple is portrayed in both paintings, that are identical in size. Both paintings were commissioned by the State Councillor and later Privy Councillor Frederik Conrad Bugge. At Bugge's sale in 1837, the two paintings were sold separately. Master painter at the Court J.G. Berg acquired the Arcueil painting and the merchant Tvermoes acquired the Bois de Boulogne painting.
Exhibited: Charlottenborg 1814 no. 13. Fondation Custodia, Paris “C.W. Eckersberg 1783–1853, Artiste Danois à Paris, Rome & Copenhague”, 2016 no. 14.
Literature: Ph. Weilbach, “Maleren Eckersbergs levned og værker” (The Life and Works of the Painter Eckersberg), 1872, mentioned pp. 215–216.
“Kunst i Privateje” (Art in Private Ownership), 1945, vol. III, mentioned pages 134–135, depicted p. 135 (Hans Lystrup). Here Kai Grundt, Head of Winkel & Magnussen writes about the painting:
“... among which we first mention the sunny view of the Aqueduct at Arcueil. It is from Eckersberg's journey to Paris where his youth instilled his images with a wonderful clarity and strength. The composition here is excellent. With a fine sense of perspective he has painted the huge building that comes into the painting from the right and closes off the background together with the foliage of the trees on the left. The foreground is brought to life with superbly drawn figures, such as a boy running from the shadow and into the painting while a couple strolls the other way towards the viewer. They are, like the other seated figures on the right and the laundresses on the left, drawn in such a masterful way that shows us David's young student at the height of his ability.”
Knud Voss, “Guldalderens Malerkunst. Dansk Arkitekturmaleri 1800–1850” (The Art of the Danish Golden Age. Danish Architectural painting 1800–1850), 1968, mentioned pp. 42–44, reproduced p. 43. Voss writes about the painting:
“The depiction of the blue summer sky, the white sheet that hangs down the side of the building and the colours of the people’s clothes are all among the finest elements in the painting, which leaves no doubt about the talent of Eckersberg when it comes to his painterly abilities.” (p. 43).
Charlotte Christensen, “Om store og små profeter i det danske guldaldermaleri”, in Gutenberghus' yearbook 1983, pp. 4–19, reproduced p. 7, mentioned p. 8.
Melanie Hewes, “Eckersberg rarity tops Denmark's art history”, in “Antiques Trade Gazettes”, 23 May 1998, p. 27 and “Bidders maintain Eckersberg momentum” in “Antiques Trade Gazettes”, 21 November 1998, p. 38.
Philip Conisbee, Kasper Monrad & Lene Bøgh Rønberg, “Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, 1783–1853”, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Washington 2003–2004, mentioned p. 39 and p. 70, reproduced p. 40.
Preben Michael Hornung & Kasper Monrad, “C. W. Eckersberg - dansk malerkunsts fader”, 2005, mentioned and reproduced p. 109.
Markus Bertsch, “Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg. Facetten seines bildnerrischen Denkens”, in “Eckersberg - Faszination Wircklichkeit: Das goldene Zeitalter der dänischen Malerei”, exhibition catalogue, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg 2016, mentioned and reproduced pp. 39–40.
Jan Gorm Madsen, “Paris avant Rome 1810–1813, le sejour de parisien” in “C. W. Eckersberg 1783–1853, Artiste Danois à Paris, Rome & Copenhague”, exhibition catalogue, Fondation Custodia, Paris 2016, mentioned and reproduced pp. 142–143.
Provenance: Commissioned by the State Councillor and later Privy Councillor Frederik Conrad Bugge. His sale, 1837 no. 118. Here acquired by master painter of the court J.G. Berg. His sale 1865 no. 40. Here acquired by the wine merchant J.B. Sandberg. His sale 1872 no. 13. Here acquired by Chamberlain Carl Sophus Scavenius, Klintholm. Merchant Hans Lystrup, Høvdingsgaard. (1945, 1954). His daughter, mrs Karen-Marie Dinesen (wife to the Master of the Royal Hunt), born Lystrup, Høvdingsgaard (1968, 1982). Kunsthallen Kunstauktioner, Copenhagen, auction 490, 1998 no. 75, reproduced p. 19 and on the cover of the catalogue. Here acquired by the present owner.