Detail from Peintures antiques découvertes à Herculanum...no. 62 (Antique paintings discovered at Herculaneum...no. 62), by Vicenzo Vangelisti, 1782. Left: Possibly the poet Aeschylus dictating to a woman who writes with a stylus. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
Detail from Peintures antiques découvertes à Herculanum...no. 62 (Antique paintings discovered at Herculaneum...no. 62), by Vicenzo Vangelisti, 1782. Right: A musician playing a tibia or aulos. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a drawing by Pierre Adrien Pâris, painter, architect, draughtsman, decorator, and engraver, 1745-1819; from a book compiled by Richard, or Jean-Claude Richard, abbé de Saint-Non, draughtsman, etcher, and aquatinter, 1727-1791
This is a pair of theater scenes set on stage. In the scene at the left, a seated man gazes at a woman on the left. She crouches beneath an image of a mask of an open-mouthed man and she inscribes a tablet with a stylus. Standing above the woman, another man gazes down at her. In the scene on the right, a man plays an aulos, a woman plays a lyre, and another woman holds a papyrus roll on which lines of text can be seen.
This is a plate from a book, Voyage pittoresque, ou Description des royaumes de Naples et de Sicile, compiled by Richard de Saint-Non (1727-1791), that was published in five volumes from 1781 to 1786. This image is from Vol. 2, which is dated 1782, the full title of which is Peintures antiques découvertes à Herculanum conservées dans le Musaeum de Portici, no. 62 (Antique paintings discovered at Herculaneum conserved in the Museum of Portici, no. 62). It faces page 17 and a description of it is given under the heading, "CONCERT ET MUSIQUE ANTIQUE" ("Concert and Antique Music") as follows, in translation:
These two fragments of antique paintings are without doubt some of the most curious in the whole Museum of Portici; some think that one of these paintings represents the poet Aeschylus who recites or dictates one of his plays, which is presumed, because, knowing the heads of Sophocles and Euripides which do not resemble the figure represented here, one has good reason to think that it must be the poet Aeschylus who was surely of good repute in Herculaneum, since a theater ticket has been discovered in the excavations of this city on which is written the name of Aeschylus and one of his plays: these tickets among the ancients were of ivory and were called tesserae. On the table which is before the woman writing under the dictation of the Poet, one sees a large mask similar to those which we have already mentioned and which are represented often and with different characters in several of the antique fragments. The other fragment represents a concert of different instrument players among whom one notices, with singularity, a kind of bandeau or muzzle which is attached to the cheeks of the musician playing the double pipes [tibia or aulos]. This bandeau was undoubtedly necessary to support and reinforce the muscles in action in order to be able to play this instrument for a long time which must have been very fatiguing: this piece of bandeau, of which we just spoke, was called a capistrum. The flute player is accompanied by a woman who plays a kind of lyre or harp. There is a likelihood that, following the custom of the ancients, music was joined with song, or to the declamation of this seated woman who, holding in her hand a roll or volume, recites undoubtedly some verse or hymn, and that the men who are behind, and like her crowned with laurel, form a chorus of music in certain places. This extremely curious fragment of antique painting is slightly damaged in the original: but we believed it proper to render it, thus reconstructed, in as much as nothing essential has been added; and that all that was most interesting has been fortunately preserved in the antique fragment. These two fragments of the same size, nearly 16 pouces [inches] square, were found in 1761, and are engraved in the fourth volume on Herculaneum, on pages 41 and 42.
See 430/U, a similar pair of theater scenes, plate no. 38, which comes from the same chapter.
About the Artists
Vicenzo Vangelisti, stipple engraver, 1744-1798
Vicenzo Vangelisti was born in Florence, possibly in 1738, rather than in 1744, and he died in Paris in 1798, according to Bénézit. He was very young when he came to Paris. Vangelisti studied with two important artists - Hugford and Wille. He may have studied with Ignazio Enrico Hugford in Florence, before arriving in Paris, and probably studied with Jan Georges, or Johan Georg, Wille in Paris. Ignazio Hugford (1703-1788) was an English painter, engraver, collector, dealer, and writer who was born in Pisa and lived in Florence. He was considered a fine printmaker and taught Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) and Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-1785). Hugford's collection of 3,000 works was purchased by the Uffizi in 1778. Jan Georges Wille (1715-1808) was a German-born draughtsman and engraver who came to Paris in 1736 and was named an Academician there in 1761. Wille was held in high esteem as an artist and for his wisdom in counseling his students, especially those who came from Germany to study with him. Wille was known for his portrait engravings and his copies of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish genre scenes. He also engraved genre scenes after the works of his contemporaries. Wille was also a collector and dealer in prints, drawings and paintings, but he was ruined financially by the French Revolution. He was active as an engraver from 1738 to 1790, but lost his vision toward the end of his life. Wille received many honors in his lifetime. He was a member of art academies in Paris, Rouen, Augsburg, Valence, Berlin and Dresden, and he was the engraver to the king of France, the emperor of Germany, and the king of Denmark. Vangelisti, student of both Hugford and Wille, and engraver of the Miller print, went to Milan in 1766 through the auspices of emperor Leopold II. Vangelisti was a professor at the Academy there and, in 1790, was the director of the School of Engraving founded by Leopold. Among Vangelisti's many students was Giuseppe Longhi (1766-1831), who became one of the finest masters of Italian engraving, and who was also a painter of miniatures. Giuseppe Longhi was appointed as a professor of engraving at the Academy of Brera. The best Italian engravers of the early 19th century were taught by Longhi.
Pierre Adrien Pâris, painter, architect, draughtsman, decorator, and engraver, 1745-1819
The artist whose drawing on which this etching was based was Pierre Adrien Pâris, a French architect and stage designer from Besançon. He was the student of his father, Pierre-François Pâris, architect and topographer to the Prince-Bishop of Basel, and he also studied in Paris under the architect, Louis-François Trouard, and created designs for the entertainments for the wedding of the Dauphin and Marie-Antoinette in 1770. About this time, Pierre-Adrien Pâris traveled to Italy where he lived and worked for five years. He had many influential friends and associated with artists such as Fragonard and provided numerous drawings of antiquities at Pompeii and Herculaneum for the abbé de Saint-Non's Voyage pittoresque.... Pâris traveled extensively in Italy, making architectural drawings, and keeping a journal of all his travels. On his return to Paris, he received numerous architectural commissions. In 1778, he was appointed Dessinateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet du Roi and was ultimately responsible, especially after 1784 when he was appointed Architecte des Menus Plaisirs by Louis XVI, for all the court entertainments and designs for theater productions at Versailles. He also produced designs for stage sets at the Paris Opéra. During the Revolution, he completed the towers of the cathedral at Orléans and built extensions to Colmoulin, a chateau in Normandy. In 1805, Napoleon appointed Pâris as the interim director of the Académie de France in Rome and, during his stay in Rome, he directed the excavations of the Colosseum. At the end of his life, Pâris returned to Besançon and catalogued his art collection which included his own work as well as paintings by Boucher, Fragonard, and Hubert Robert. His collection is now housed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie in Besançon.
Richard, or Jean-Claude Richard, abbé de Saint-Non, draughtsman, etcher, and aquatinter, 1727-1791
Richard, or Jean-Claude Richard, abbé de Saint-Non, was a painter in oils, gouache and pastel, a draughtsman, etcher and aquatinter, as well as an art collector and patron of the arts. He was born in Paris in 1727 and died there in 1791. Though he joined the Church as a young man as his family intended, he preferred the study of art. In 1750, he traveled to England and The Netherlands, where he collected some etchings by Rembrandt. It was in Italy, though, that the abbé de Saint-Non spent many years, beginning in 1759, where he befriended and traveled with artists such as Hubert Robert and Fragonard, whose drawings he later etched and published in Fragmens des peintures et des tableaux les plus intéressans des palais et églises d'Italie (1770-1773) and in his Griffonis (1755-1778). One of his finest productions, however, was the publication of Voyage pittoresque de Naples et de Sicile which appeared in five folio volumes between 1781 and 1786. These volumes contain over 500 etched plates which document the topography and mid-18th-century archeological findings at Herculaneum, Pompeii, and excavations in Naples and Sicily. For this project, Saint-Non enlisted the help of numerous other artists and engravers and, under his guidance, Dominique-Vivant Denon wrote the text. The Library of Congress has two sets of Saint-Non's Voyage pittoresque..., both in the Rare Book Division, one set of which is in the Rosenwald Collection, the full citation and call numbers of which are given in the description of this work. Among the luminaries Saint-Non knew were Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
- The full bibliographic citation from which this plate derives is as follows: VOYAGE PITTORESQUE OU DESCRIPTION DES ROYAUMES DE NAPLES ET DE SICILE. TOME SECOND. SECONDE PARTIE DU PREMIER VOLUME, CONTENANT Une Description des Antiquités d'Herculanum, des Plans & des Détails de son Théâtre, avec une Notice abrégée des différens Spectacles des Anciens. Les Antiquités de Pompeïi. La Description des Champs Phlégréens, & enfin celle de la Campagnie & des Villes des environs de Naples. A Paris. M. DCC. LXXXII. AVEC APPROBATION, ET PRIVILEGE DU ROI. Rare Book Division, Library of Congress. Copy 1: DG821.S14. Copy 2: Rosenwald Collection, no. 1697. This plate is from Chapitre Septième [Chapter 7]. Tableaux & Peintures antiques d'Herculanum. [back to article]
- Original text: "Ces deux morceaux de Peintures antiques sont sans doute des plus curieux de tout le Musaeum de Portici: quelques Personnes pensent que l'une de ces Peintures pourroit être le Poète Eschile qui récite ou dicte une de ses Pièces, ce que l'on présume, parce que, connoissant les Têtes de Sophocle & d'Euripide qui ne ressemblent point à la Figure qui est représentée ici, l'on a lieu de penser que ce devoit être le Poète Eschile, qui étoit sûrement en réputation à Herculanum, puisque dans les fouilles de cette ville on a découvert un billet de Théâtre, sur lequel étoit écrit le nom d'Eschile, & d'une de ses Pièces: ces billets chez les Anciens étoient en ivoire, & s'appelloient Tesserae. / Sur la table qui est devant la Femme écrivant sous la dictée du Poète, l'on voit un grand masque, pareil à ceux dont on a déja parlé, & qui sont représentés souvent & avec différens caractères dans plusieurs de ces fragmens antiques. / L'autre morceau représente un Concert de différens Joueurs d'Instrumens, parmi lesquels on peut remarquer, comme une singularité, l'espèce de bandeau ou de muselière qui est attachée sur les joues du Musicien jouant de la double flûte. Ce bandeau étoit sans doute nécessaire pour soutenir & renforcer les muscles en action, afin de pouvoir jouer long-temps de cet Instrument qui devoit être très-fatigant: cette espèce de muselière, dont on vient de parler, se nommoit capistrum. / Le Joueur de flûte est accompagné par une Femme qui touche d'une sorte de lyre ou de harpe. Il y a apparence que, suivant usage des Anciens, la Musique se joignoit au Chant, ou à la déclamation de cette Femme assise, qui tenant à la main un roleau ou volume, récite sans doute des vers ou quelque hymne; & que les hommes qui sont derrière, et comme elle couronnés de laurier, formoient un Choeur de Musique dans certains endroits. / Ce morceau de Peinture antique infiniment curieux, est un peu endommagé dans l'original: mais on a cru à propos de le rendre, ainsi rétabli, d'autant qu'on n'y a absolument rien ajouté d'essentiel; & que tout ce qui étoit de plus intéressant, a été heureusement conservé dans le fragment antique. / [contiunued on p. 18] Ces deux morceaux de même grandeur, & à-peu-près de seize pouces en quarré, ont été trouvés en 1761, & sont gravés dans le quatrième Volume de l'Herculanum, aux p. 41 & 42." [back to article]
- The principal source for biographical information on Vangelisti was drawn from Bénézit. Information on Hugford came from an online source for ArtDaily which is no longer available, as well as from an online entry under Hugford from Ars Libri, an art bookshop in Boston. See also a Wikipedia entry on Hugford which gives his death date as 1778. [back to article]
- The information on Pierre-Adrien Pâris given here was derived from Bénézit and an article, "Pierre-Adrien Pâris," by Alain Gruber in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (subscription only). [back to article]
- The principal sources for the life and work of the abbé de Saint-Non given here are Bénézit and an article by Hélène Guicharnaud, "Abbe de Saint-Non [Richard, Jean-Claude]," in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (subscription only). [back to article]