Friday, May 3, 2013
[Granville Female College]. A drawing (1830s?). Used courtesy of Garth's Auctions.
When I first saw the thumbnail for this drawing in the current catalogue at Garth's Auctions, I knew the composition was familiar - namely, it was a subject illustrated in a lithograph by one M. French, made between 1835 and 1839, in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. The date for the drawing was listed as "mid 19th century" - I hoped that the lithograph might provide some context - most likely the size of the trees - that would give a more specific date.
On further examination, I've come to see that they're a lot closer in composition - and likely date - than I had initially guessed.
Female academy, Granville Ohio. A lithograph (between 1835 and 1839) from a drawing by M. French. Printed by Bufford's Lith. Used courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.
There are quite a few elements shared by both images. A woman in a white dress stands in the front door of the Academy, with two women in dark dresses immediately to the right. The chimney of the house to the left ends up centered in a second floor window in both cases - even though they have rather different perspectives. The trees both show approximately the same amount of growth. Many (though not all) of the same windows are open on the front of the structure. There's even a similarity in the toning of the sky.
The drawing features central chimneys, while the print has more of them, smaller in size. In the drawing, the gable has a single window, while in the print, there are two smaller ones. In the print, the house is closer to the street, while in the drawing, it appears to have been moved back. In the drawing, which has a more crude sense of perspective, we can see more detail in the house to the right. The print has a different fence from the drawing.
It seems likely that these two images share some sort of common source - but what that source is, I do not know.
They have enough in common that one might start to consider if the drawing was a copy after the print - but the lack of the same skill in perspective tends to refute this.
My guess - and it is a guess - is that these were the product of two students, working under the same teacher at Granville Female Academy at the same time. On a given day, they went out and made sketches together. They included some suggestions about perspective - and some idealized items (the people walking on the street) as suggested, perhaps by the teacher. It might be worth the time to see if an "M. French" was, indeed, a student there at that time.
This pair appears to provide a look at how two artists, one more skilled than the other, approached the same subject at the same time.