In the academic hierarchy of late 18th Century art, landscape painting was considered inferior in comparison to history, portrait and genre painting. This perception gradually changed at the end of the century when the Neo-Classical landscape artists introduced the 'historical landscape', a genre looking back to the classical landscape tradition of the 17th Century.
After 1810, the attitude towards these historical landscapes changed significantly and they were regarded as important as the traditional history painting. Many of the artists who dedicated their oeuvres to this category were winners of the Prix de Rome for historical landscape, a prize introduced in 1817 to enable young artists to study in Italy.
Jean-Charles-Joseph Rémond, who received his first artistic training in the studios of Henri Victor Regnault and Jean Victor Bertin, was awarded the prestigious Grand Prix de Paysage Historique in 1821, and the young artist spent the next five years in Italy painting sketches in the open air. There he joined other artists who had traveled to the Italian campagna who, distanced from their homes, were freed from the pressures of the commercial art world and were able to devote themselves completely to the pleasures of painting. Guided purely by their senses and without the controlled lighting of the studio, painters were forced to employ a technique of rapid sketching that captured the essence of the light and contours of the hills, valleys and coastline of the Italian peninsula. His experience, like that of his fellow artist Achille-Etna Michallon, started the young artist on a career dedicated to the landscape and culminated in his tutelage of the young Théodore Rousseau, one of the founding artists of the Barbizon School.
View of Lago di Averno, the Castello di Baia and the Bay of Naples was painted between 1820 and 1825, during the young artist's first trip to the Italian countryside. In this painting, the young artist is obviously taken with the intensity of color and light which was so different from his native France. The sky is painted in a fully-saturated blue, which blends into the yellows and lavenders of the western sky as the sun sets behind the mountain now shrouded in shadow. The remnant of the clear light still illuminates the sea, the top of the ruins, and the figures of the peasant girls returning from a stroll. The young girls, as well as the shepherd watching his flock, are fully integrated into the landscape.
We would like to thank Antoine Laurentin for confirming the authenticity of this work which will be included in his forthcoming Rémond catalogue raisonné.