18th-Century French School, Dark Arcadian Landscape

18th-Century French School, Dark Arcadian Landscape

A large 18th-century French school depiction of an Arcadian landscape with figures. The rigours of time have resulted in the surface becoming so dark that the scenery is almost a mere silhouette. A clean would reveal its true identity but isn’t it so much better like this?

It’s intriguing to find a canvas that’s been left untouched for 250 years as usually oil paintings of this age have been cleaned at least once or twice. If this was an 18th-century portrait, we would almost certainly clean it but, in this instance, the combination of an idealised landscape and a dark surface seems to work well. 

Underneath the darkening, the landscape is modelled in a style akin to the great French masters - Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) and Claude Lorrain (1600-1682). Landscapes such as this were designed from the imagination and glorified the ancient world to create a romanticised view of nature.

The painting is housed within an outstanding handcrafted 18th-century gilt frame with foliate decoration and swept corners.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 38” x 27” / 97cm x 69cm
Year of creation: c. 1750
Provenance: France
Condition: Craquelure but the paint is stable. Extensive darkening. Frame with some light age-related wear.