BLEULER, Johann Heinrich; BLEULER, Johann Ludwig
23 gouaches with underlying outline etching, sl. varying sizes c. 32 x 47 on 40 x 54 cm, all with black border (occasionally paint loss in borders and a few very light stains on n. 16, but generally in excellent condition). German manuscript on paper (c. 23 x 37,5 cm),  ff. written in brown ink with double ruled borders.
In contemporary half leather box with label "Vues du duché de Berck".
Unique suite factice of Louis Bleuler's gouaches, presumably based upon a trip by his father Johann Heinrich Bleuler (1758-1823) to the Grand Duchy of Berg, a territorial grand duchy established by Napoleon Bonaparte after his victory at the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz. The Grand Duchy, on territories between the French Empire at the Rhine river and the German Kingdom of Westphalia, was soon disestablished after the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. As such, this suite might be based upon the rare work of Louis Bleuler's father Johann Heinrich Bleuler (1758-1823). Although Bleuler's landscapes are often sold as full gouache paintings, the technique earlier developed by Johann Ludwig Aberli (1723-1786) was much more sophisticated. A rudimentary sketch was made by outline etching that could be used as a painting aid for watercolouring afterwards. However, at the end of the 1780s the watercolour was changed into gouache, whereby the gouache painters also used the underlying outline etching. The resulting views could be hardly distinguished from original gouache paintings. A reminder of this change of technique is visible in the painting "Das Volmetal bei Hagen" (present both in Stadtmuseum Hagen and in our series). The copy of Hagen is still watercoloured, while our copy is eminently gouached. On the other hand "Limburg an der Lenne" is a slightly different composition from the copy of Hagen, but it still includes the tall tower of the castle that collapsed as a result of the lightning in 1811, and is hence a useful tool to date the collection. Only in 1827 did Louis Bleuler start working on a sequence of prints featuring landscapes along the Rhine, so our series precedes Louis' famous Rhine Collection, entitled "Voyage pittoresque aux Bords du Rhin dessiné et publié par Louis Bleuler peintre editeur au Chateau de Laufen tout près la chute du Rhin de Schafhouse en Suisse“ (start of the edition in 1827, completed in 1842/43).
It includes: 1. Blankenstein an der Lenne, 2. Mulheim an der Ruhr (obere Seite) (some spots), 3. Mulheim an der Ruhr (untere seite), 4. Barmen von der Seite von Elberfeld, 5. Barmen & Wupperfeld von der seite von Ritershausen, 6. Elberfeld (only 1 of 2 mentioned in the manuscript list), 7. Die Abtey und das Staedtchen Siegburg an der Sieg, 8. Wetter und Vollmerstein an der Lenne, 9. Schloss Cleff & Hattingen an der Ruhr, 10. Letmaten an der Lenne, 11. Altona an der Elbe/Lenne, 12. Ansicht der Grüne bey Isserlohn, 13-14. Limburg an der Lenne (2), 15. Schloss Klusenstein bey Isserlohn, 16. Aufsicht nach Kettwig und Sarnen an der Ruhr, 17. Das Volmetal bei Hagen, 18. Aufsicht nach dem Mineralbrunnen bey Schwelm, 19. Burg bey Sohlingen, 20-21, Pyrmont (2), 22. Remscheid, 23. Schloss Schwarzenberg an der Lenne.
The box also contains a manuscript text entitled "Malerische Ansichten aus den Grossherzogtum Berg". The text provides a list with 22 descriptions of 21 paintings included in the box; of Elberfeld there is only 1 (of 2) gouaches present and the last two mentioned on the list, concerning Pyrmont, are in a different handwriting, presumably that of Louis who added also after the name Bleuler "Sohn aus Feurthalen bey Schlafhausen". Two supplementary paintings: "Remscheid" and "Schloss Schwarzenberg an der Lenne" are not mentioned in the list. Needless to say, these idyllic paintings represent remarkable testimonies of the pre-industrial landscape without the later bridges, roads and railways.
Ref. Werner Rutishauser: Bleuler, Johann Heinrich (der Ältere, Vater), in: SIKART Lexikon zur Kunst in der Schweiz. - Idem: Bleuler, Johann Ludwig (Louis). - Ralf Blank: Stadtmuseum Hagen. (2018-06-24). Gemälde: "Das Volmetal bei Hagen" and "Das Lennetal bei Limburg". Retrieved from https://westfalen.museum-digital.de.
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