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Rocky Landscape with a Waterfall, Shepherd Shepherdess and a Sheep, and a Baying Dog



Nicolas-Jacques Julliar (1719-1790)
Rocky Landscape with a Waterfall, Shepherd Shepherdess and a Sheep, and a Baying Dog
oil on canvas
AGLC 313 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

It is only in recent years that the oeuvre of Nicolas- Jacques Julliar has gradually been assembled, above all by distinguishing his better productions from those of his master, François Boucher (1703- 1770). In terms of landscape alone, this has not always been easy with his earlier works (for which the touchstone is his morceau de réception of 1759 in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours). Even in these, however, he is betrayed by his puppet-like (and subsequently repetitive) figures. As Étienne Mignot de Montigny, Inspector of the Aubusson tapestry manufactory, for which Julliar later worked, observed in a letter of 16 June 1781: ‘With respect to the figures [in Julliar’s tapestry cartoons], they are mediocre, and will always be so – this is not a skill of the painter, who devoted himself entirely to landscape when he was young.’ This concentration on landscape had, however, been urged on him by his master, as he explained in a letter to Lenormant de Tournehem, the Surintendant des Bâtiments, of 19 May 1749: ‘Jacques-Nicolas [sic] Julliar, pupil of the Royal Academy of painting and sculpture since childhood, and of Mr Boucher for the last ten years, after having practised history painting, has made a particular study of landscape; this was on the advice of Mr Boucher, who pointed out to him that there was a dearth of landscape painters in France which made itself felt especially in works done for the King, whether tapestries, decorative work or other things.’   

The hound in the present picture is actually repeated from what is probably Julliar’s masterpiece, the Capriccio of Tivoli with the Temple of Vesta, indistinctly signed, and dated 1754, that was generally believed to be by Boucher, until its true authorship was recognised by the present writer, prior to its auction in 1992. The landscape is, however, of his later type, with mannered, particularly crooked trees; Simmons compared them with those in a signed Italianate landscape of the 1760s, the last digit of whose date is indistinct, but the present painting may be even later. There are similar couples to the shepherd and shepherdess in a painting attributed to Julliar, and in one of a pair that, though auctioned as by Jean- Baptiste Huet, is evidently by Julliar – even the dog is related to the one in the present picture.

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About the artist

He studied at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and then with François Boucher for ten years. On the advice of his mentor, he specialised in Arcadian landscape painting. From 1755 until his death, he provided tapestry designs for the Aubusson tapestry manufactory.

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