A rocky winter landscape with elegant figures in a horse-drawn carriage oil on canvas 74 x 100cm (29 1/8 x 39 3/8in).
PROVENANCE: Purchased by the present owner's uncle in New York in the 1940s
Foschi can be considered the Italian virtuoso of winter landscapes. The genre of snowy landscapes had a period of glory in 16th and 17th century Flanders, but Foschi interpreted them in his own manner and participated in the rediscovery of an aspect of nature neglected by most of his contemporaries. As is typical of Foschi, the colour range of the present work and the following lot is limited with an emphasis on whites, a studied range of greys, a few brown and ochre tones that emphasise small areas of ground not covered by the snow. These tones and Foschi's precise technique are deployed to achieve outstanding effects among the treetops, the patches of grass, the bare trunks and the heavy sky. Typical also is the way in which the tiny figures provide a sense of the scale of the overwhelming, natural setting, nevertheless conveying a sense of warmth and a tranquillity which appealed to eighteenth century taste.
Until relatively recently little has been written about Francesco Foschi. However, Luigi Serra's investigations in the first quarter of the 20th century were followed by the studies of Bonfrancesco and Marietta Vinci, who set Foschi's life and work within a broader context. Despite this reconstruction of his output, various issues remain unresolved, particularly the dating of his paintings. Born in Ancona in 1710 Francesco Foschi was of noble origin and various members of his family were painters. After completing his training with Francesco Mancini in Fano, he moved to Rome in 1729, where he came in close contact with Gian Paolo Panini and Vanvitelli. The artist enjoyed the protection of influential figures at the outset of his career, including Count Raimondo Bonaccorsi and the English ambassador in Naples, Sir William Hamilton.