The leading landscape painter of the late 18th century, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes was also an important theoretician whose book <em>Elements of Practical Perspective</em> influenced generations of French artists who followed. In the book, the artist described two ways of envisioning nature: "seeing it as it is," and "seeing it as it could be." He preferred the latter, believing that it demanded more of the imagination than merely copying the natural world. The perfection of the setting in this drawing reflects the noble, classical subject: three maidens cutting their hair and offering it on an altar to a river god.

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  • Title: Classical Landscape
  • Creator: Pierre Henri de Valenciennes (French, 1750-1819)
  • Date Created: 1779
  • Physical Dimensions: Sheet: 41.3 x 48.3 cm (16 1/4 x 19 in.); Secondary Support: 43.6 x 52.1 cm (17 3/16 x 20 1/2 in.)
  • Provenance: (Heim Gallery, London), (Shepherd Gallery, New York), (Jean-Pierre Selz, New York, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Drawing
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1980.91
  • Medium: black gouache and brush and gray wash, over black chalk and graphite, heightened with white gouache
  • Inscriptions: signed, lower left, in brown ink: Valencienne Fecit / a Rome. 1779 / 1779
  • Fun Fact: The ritual seen here, in which women cut their hair and offer it to a god, is rarely depicted in the visual arts.
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: France, 18th century
  • Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
  • Collection: DR - French
  • Accession Number: 1980.91

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