Although I expect that this large drawing in bistre/sepia ink will sell to a native of the town depicted, I wanted to show it to you anyway. The work dates from the modern period - most likely from the 1930s, although it could be older - and yet it has the spontaneous, skilful elegance that one usually only sees in old master drawings. In a balanced, well proportioned composition, and with a backdrop of impressive battle ships and cranes, there is life: sailors, hawkers, street vendors, workers, children, passers by. The bustle is fascinating, and the artist takes you right there.
A little historical context: rather than joining the Free French forces in North Africa, and to avoid capture by the Germans, the French fleet based at Toulon scuttled itself on 27 November 1942 on the orders of the French admiralty. The French destroyed 77 vessels, including 3 battleships, 7 cruisers, 15 destroyers, 13 torpedo boats, 6 sloops, 12 submarines, 9 patrol boats, 19 auxiliary ships, 1 school ship, 28 tugs, and 4 cranes. Our drawing would have been executed before this event.
The statue depicted in the in the centre of the drawing is a 5 metre high marble work by Louis Joseph Daumas dating frm 1847. It has the particularity that it is sea-facing, and hence has its bottom directed towards the town hall. While there was a naval admiral named Cuverville, the sculpture is nicknamed Cul-vers-ville, a nice little French pun.
Size 25 x 46 cm, beautifully framed framed : 45 x 65 cm
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