Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, ‘An album of 112 topographical views, many in the environs of London and Paris’, Christie's Old Masters

The majority of the drawings in this album were executed in France, where the Swiss-born artist lived between the summer of 1765 and February 1768. Six drawings are of the environs of London, where he was to settle in 1768 and spend the rest of his life. Grimm arrived in Paris almost the same time as the German artist Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807) and in 1766 he, Hackert and the French painter Nicolas Pérignon (1726-1782) made a walking tour of Normandy. In September 1767 Grimm was again on tour, this time with the artists Johann Georg Wille (1715-1808), George Frederick Meyer (1735-1779) and Johann Eleazar Schenau (1737-1806). Wille was a highly respected senior figure in the French art world: his Mémoires et Journal, written between 1759 and 1793 (and published in 1857) provide a fascinating picture of the artistic milieu that Grimm entered in 1765. The drawings in this album reflect the influences of Wille, Pérignon and Hackert on Grimm's own way of working. He is shown to be equally proficient in the use of red crayon, pen and ink and watercolor.

Grimm recorded important and long-lost medieval buildings at places such as Creil in Picardy, he drew trees in the Bois de Boulogne and old farmsteads in villages that are now subsumed into the city of Paris.

Some of the drawings in the album were later translated into finished watercolors. Two views of Saint-Valéry (on pages 78 and 85 in the album) for example, were developed in 1768 into watercolors that are now in the Albertina, Vienna.

The pages of the album on which the drawings are laid down originate from three different mills. The presence of 1794 dates in all three papers show that the album must have been assembled after Grimm's death in London on 14 April 1794. The Act of 1794 stipulated that the paper should have a watermark of 1794, the date that the Excise demanded papermakers to date their paper in order to claim the rebate due. The three watermarks in the album are 'wilmott/1794', 'edmeads & pine/1794' and 'floyd & co/1794'. The drawings in the album have been executed on three different writing papers of Dutch origin. At the date when these drawings were produced there were no purpose made drawing papers: the artists just chose paper that suited them and which they could work on.

Signature: The majority inscribed with title and numbered '(1)-(115)' (upper center)

About Samuel Hieronymus Grimm

1733-1794, Burgdorf, Switzerland, based in London, United Kingdom

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