(COOTE FAMILY). ~ Album. [France, Italy, Russia and Ireland, c. 1840s].
Oblong folio (305 × 420 mm), containing 25 mounted watercolours, plus 3 drawings and one photograph (loose), some with pencil captions. Original roan backed boards, the sides covered with black pebble-grain paper, gilt title to upper cover. Somewhat worn and shaken, but the contents fine.
A superb collection which includes 24 large watercolours of fashionable interiors in houses and hotels in Pisa, Lucca, Nice, Tours, Lyon (and one in Saint Petersburg). Richly coloured and detailed these are wonderful visual accounts of contemporary European taste in interior design. Ceiling and wall mouldings, chimney pieces and window frames are rendered in painstaking detail, as are a wide range of furnishings and fabrics, together with domestic articles such as clocks, mirrors, musical instruments, albums, books, prints and pictures. Fabrics, carpets and wall hangings are especially carefully treated, with details of patterns and textures faithfully recorded. The number of books and albums adorning shelves and tabletops is notable, giving an impression of a leisured and cultivated milieu.
The images are generously proportioned, usually more than 20 cms high and between 25 and 30 cms wide (some are larger). All are probably by the same hand, unsigned, leaving us to search for clues among the captions to the identity of the artist. One refers to the house of ‘My Grandfather Sir Coote’ while two of the pencil drawings are recognisable as the Coote family seat at Ballyfin, Leinster, Ireland. One watercolour refers to ‘ma chambre’ suggesting the watercolours are personal records of a series of visits and stays in popular winter and summer holiday spots, some with prominent hosts. Some images have the captions in pencil on their backs, in a very shaky hand, which have evidently been transcribed when the pictures were pasted into this album, perhaps c. 1860.
Some of the interiors are unpopulated (and have an eerie quality) while others have well-dressed figures sitting and standing, conversing, reading or drawing. Several faces recur, notably a mustachioed man with longish hair, who might possibly be the artist or a relative. The Anglo-Irish Coote family owned Ballyfin, which became one of the finest mansions in Ireland, from the early nineteenth century and the 9th Baronet, Sir Charles Coote (d. 1864, likely to be the grandfather mentioned in the caption) was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford and was frequently on the continent. He had five sons and two daughters, and presumably many grandchildren — one of whom may have been the artist here. It is possible that the additional pencil drawings (1, 28 and 29) are in different hands.
1. Pencil caricature ‘The honorable général William Rerelinson’ [sic], signed ‘Vte. R. de Querelly’. (360 × 240 mm), edges creased and slightly frayed.
2. Portrait of a young girl, untitled (295 × 215 mm).
3. Interior, untitled, but a variant of the following view (126 × 160 mm).
4. Caza Leoli - à Pise (126 × 160 mm), closed tear (56 mm) no loss, slightly creased.
5. Salon au quai du Midi [?Nice] (238 × 180 mm), slight loss at upper corners.
6. Un salon d’Hôtel - 1842. à Tours (230 × 220 mm).
7. Eté 1842 Maison Viallon (La Mulatière, Lyon) (235 × 280 mm).
8. Salon de la Maison Gilly à la Croix de Marbre (Nice) Hiver 1842 et 1843 - Eté 1846 (246 × 342 mm).
9. Pise - Palais Leoli - Salon. Hiver 1843 et 1844 (235 × 298 mm).
10. Eté 1844. Bagni di Lucca (225 × 318 mm).
11. Eté 1845. Viareggio (230 × 280 mm).
12. Salon. Chez le Prince Méncherski (238 × 310 mm).
13. Maison Marchet (204 × 274 mm).
14. [Another version of the above, untitled] (216 × 275 mm).
15. [Untitled interior with woman reading by a fireside] (250 × 362 mm).
16. Maison de Roubion (215 × 250 mm).
17. Maison Gilly (246 × 340 mm).
18. [Untitled interior, a gentleman seated, in a dressing gown, verso caption ‘ma chambre’] (124 × 146 mm).
19. Hiver 1844 - 1845 - 1846 à Pise (234 × 314 mm).
20. Maison Gilly (Adrien) à Nice - Croix de Marbre - Eté 1846 (227 × 295 mm).
21. [Untitled, an opulent interior] (188 × 262 mm).
22. Maison Ambroise Tiranty - Nice (Hiver 1846-1847) (246 × 300 mm).
23. Viareggio (228 × 284 mm).
24. Petersbourg - Caserne des Chevaliers Gardes (250 × 349 mm), 2 short tears to right border, no loss.
25. Chambre de mon Gd Père Sir Coote à Nice (288 × 224 mm).
26. Maison Maselet [or Maschet] (170 × 245 mm).
27. Photograph, view of Nice (216 × 275 mm).
28. Pencil drawing [Ballyfin House, Leinster, Ireland] (270 × 375 mm).
29. Pencil drawing [Ballyfin House, Leinster, Ireland] (180 × 276 mm).