Attributed to William Henry Buck
"Italian Domestics Gathering Water from a Roman Fountain Amid a Ruin"
oil on millboard
Presented in a W. E. Seebold's frame with brass artist plaque and partial label en verso.
7-1/2" x 10-1/4"
Provenance: Collection of the Honorable Robert E. Brumby (1884-1966), Franklin, Louisiana; thence by descent.
Notes: William Henry Buck left Scandinavia seeking exploration and fortune in the new world and tried his hand at many styles as he made his way down the eastern seaboard and Mississippi. Even after he established himself as a landscape painter in Louisiana in the mid-to-late 1870s, he still executed rogue portraits, seascapes, hunt and daily life scenes, even Classical-style hand-cut silhouettes. W. E. Seebold('s) was one of the first major fine art and antiques galleries, framers, and art supply retailers in the city that showcased the newest and finest fashions and inventions. In a lengthy 1877 review of Seebold's in the Times-Picayune, the "art note" columnist first commends two landscapes on exhibit by Buck and then boasts that Mr. Seebold has recently introduced the photogravure "novelty" to the city of New Orleans, which was "first employed by Messrs. Goupil in Paris to transfer the compositions of the Salon to the volumes of engravings, which they annually exhibited." Much of the Salon rage was for the Realist movement, which often married Grand Tour landscapes with Italian genre scenes, creating a great demand for Italian peasants (washwomen in particularly) before Classical ruins, redolent of the scene pictured here. Hubert Robert, a French academician, was one of the leading painters of this style, exhibiting widely at the Salon. So popular were these images that etchings, through the new photogravure process, were made after them. It is through Seebold's that Buck encountered these works, and likely painted this piece after a photogravure etching. The Seebold's frame and millboard are also indicative of Buck. Aside from canvas, Buck mainly painted on millboard (pressed mill waste and paste). In the 19th century, millboards and nascent academy boards were the preferred medium for plein-air landscape artists, as they were cheap, lightweight and did not damage easily in transit. Seebold's retailed millboards; the ones Buck used (likely from Seebold's) were primed in gray to prevent the board surface from becoming frayed and abraded.
Reference: "Art Notes". Times-Picayune. Sept. 29, 1877. p. 4.