Pancrace Bessa (French, 1772-1846), Pear and Floral Study
Pancrace Bessa (French, 1772-1835)
Pear and Floral Study
Watercolor over faint pencil sketching, each within a gilt and ink-ruled border, signed “P. Bessa” on vellum
Vellum size: 13 1/4 x 8 1/4 in
Provenance: Charles X by whom commissioned; given by him as a new year’s gift in 1826 to his daughter-in-law and Bessa’s pupil, the Duchesse de Berry (1798-1870); her sister, Teresa Cristina, Empress of Brazil (1822-1889); Barbosa Rodrigues, Director of the Botanical Garden, Rio de Janeiro d. 1909; Paulo Campos-Porto, Director of the Botanical Garden, Rio de Janeiro; his sale, Beverly Hills, California, Gallery of Lewis S. Hart, 17 November 1947.
King Charles X commissioned the artist to illustrate the French botanical journal “L’Herbier général de l’amateur”(“General Herbal for the Amateur”). Between 1810 and 1826, Bessa produced 572 watercolors for the publication which so impressed the King that he presented them to his daughter-in-law, and Bessa’s pupil, the Duchesse de Berry as a New Year’s Day gift in 1826. The collection remained intact until 1947 when the group was dispersed at an auction.
Pancrace Bessa was one of the most talented and famous flower painters of his day and an outstanding pupil, both of Redoute and Gerard von Spaendonck. Bessa exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon, and he produced watercolors on vellum for the French royal collection of watercolors on vellum known as the “Velins du Roi.”
Bessa is perhaps best known, however, for his printed works. He produced exquisite stipple engravings from his watercolors in many great botanical books. Dunthorne describes his “Etudes des Fleurs et de Fruits” as “among the most exquisite of all flower prints in their beauty and delicacy of execution.” Bessa also collaborated with Redoute on several works, both as a painter and as a master engraver, producing the stunning engravings for Redoute’s “Roses.”
These finely rendered watercolors display Bessa’s remarkable talent as a watercolor painter. The expertly executed detail is combined with an exceptional richness of color and texture to produce beautiful and compelling works. Their distinguished provenance attests to the esteem with which Bessa’s original works garner, a sense that is confirmed by the impeccable quality of these watercolors.
Please feel free to contact us with questions by phone at 215.735.8811,
or by email at loricohen@aradergalleries.
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