A Fallen Tree Trunk

about 1850, Giovanni-Battista Camuccini

The Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery, © Private collection 2000. Used by permission
Camuccini's study of a fallen tree trunk is an example of the sort of study encouraged by the artist Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, a central figure in the development of the landscape oil sketch. Valenciennes encouraged artists to make oil studies of trees, focusing on their barks and all the other irregularities that characterised them. In this study, the massive, twisted trunk, with moss dappling the bark on its curving, broken branches, has fallen somewhere in the countryside; decay is well advanced as it is slowly absorbed back into the earth.

This sketch comes from the bundle of oil sketches on paper recently found at the Camuccini family villa at Cantalupo in Italy.

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