Professor Klaus Herding kindly confirmed the attribution of the present drawing to Puget, on studying the original, and dates it to the 1680s while the artist was living in Marseilles. According to Professor Herding the artist could have drawn the present landscape, depicting a tree typical of Southern France, in the property he bought in the Estaque, just outside Marseilles, in 1686 and 1687.
This type of landscape drawing is unique in Puget's oeuvre. In refined handling of pen with the hatching it can be compared to two views of La Ciotat and Toulon in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille (M.-P. Vial, Puget, exhib. cat., Marseilles, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1994, nos. 97-98).
Like the present drawing, these two last landscapes, from Chennevières collection, bear the inscription 'a ollivier' on their versi. This inscription is associated with Ollivier, a painter and friend of Puget, mentioned in Puget's will and charged with distributing alms and educating his grandchild (L. Lagrange, Pierre Puget, peintre, sculpteur, architecte, décorateur de vaisseaux, Paris, 1868, p. 327). Ollivier is traditionally identified with the painter and gilder Antoine Ollivier, born around 1650, who worked in Marseilles Town Hall in 1686-9.
Professor Herding suggests that the inscriptions on the verso of the drawings could either be a dedication from Puget to Ollivier, in which case the inscription is contemporary with the drawings, or a collector's inscription, and thus slightly later than the drawings. Professor Herding also mentioned a print by H. Coussin depicting A. Ollivier and exhibited in Marseilles in 1906. That print, made after a picture in Boyer d'Eguilles collection, is now lost but was probably part of the Recueil des plus beaux tableaux du cabinet de M. Boyer d'Eguilles, Paris, 1709.
This motif of an intertwined pair of trees, often with a dead trunk to the side, is found in a number of works by Puget, for example in the lost painting of the Flight into Egypt known through a print by Jacques Coelemans for the Boyer d'Eguilles Recueil (M.-C. Gloton, 'Puget Peintre', 1985, p. 36, fig. 5) or in the drawing of the Education of Achilles in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles (K. Herding, Pierre Puget, Das bildnerische Werk, Berlin, 1970, fig. 255).
The close horizontal hatching of the composition's background is also found in Puget's sculpted oeuvre, such as the relief of The plague in Milan in Marseilles (K. Herding, op. cit., no. 53, figs. 290-291 and 296) or in the Hercules in the Louvre (see photograph of a detail in K. Herding, 'Puget als Zeichner - noch immer kaum bekannt', Correspondances, Festschrift für Margret Stuffmann zum 24. November 1996, 1996, p. 101, fig. 8).
Professor Herding also points out that Puget often used the versi of his drawings for calculations, as in the present drawing.
We are very grateful for his help in cataloguing the present lot.