Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc

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Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc
View in the Swiss Mountains
Graphite, with blue wash, on paper.
9 x 11 in. (229 x 279 mm)
Bequest of John M. Thayer.

After a successful career as an architect, restorer, and writer, Viollet-le-Duc, took up arms during the Paris Commune of 1870-7 at the age of fifty-six. The siege of Paris and France's defeat at the hands of the Prussians deeply affected le Duc, and he spent more time in Switzerland, taking on a project to restore the cathedral at Lausanne from 1873-76. In 1868, he visited Mont Blanc in Switzerland, and the mountain would deeply engage him in his later years. As his daughter Genevieve recorded, "A tireless walker, he spent two weeks of every summer from then until his death exploring one part or another of that massif. He left a body of work rightly esteemed by specialists and more than five hundred drawings and watercolors of high quality and rigorous scientific precision."
This view, dated by the artist to 12 August 1872 and labeled "vallée Chamay (?)," was made during one of his summer rambles. The exact site is not clear from the inscription, which is close to but not an exact match for some of the mountain towns in the area, such as Chambéry or Chamonix.
The two prominent collector's stamps were used during the artist's lifetime on sketches in his studio and are less frequently found on finished drawings.


Dated and inscribed in graphite at lower right, "12 Aout 72" and "Vallée Chamay (?)"; estate stamps in red ink at lower left and lower right (L. 878a & L2494a).

Sale, New York, Christie's, 24 February 1982, lot 46; John M. Thayer (1944-2004), Wilmington, DE.
Associated names: 

Thayer, John M. (John MacLane), 1944-2004, former owner.