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Francois Thomas Louis Francia (1772-1839) - Villagers walking by country church
  • Francois Thomas Louis Francia (1772-1839) - Villagers walking by country church

    Francia came to England in 1795 and first exhibited at the Royal Academy that year. He became close friends with Thomas Girtin and both artists attended Dr Thomas Monro's drawing academy. They became co-founders of the Sketching Society in 1799, with Francia being the secretary. This Society continued through other iterations and artists until 1851 and was an important artistic and social club. Other later members included John Sell Cotman, Charles Robert Leslie, Thomas Uwins, Clarkson Stanfield, Joshua Cristall, John James Chalon and Alfred Edward Chalon.


    Francia then worked as an assistant at J.C. Barrow's drawing school in Holborn before setting himself up as a drawing master based in Kensington in 1805. The artist then joined the Associate Artists in Watercolours in 1810 and became their secretary the following year. Francia applied to be an Associate member of the Royal Academy in 1816 and was not succesful. He then returned to Calais in 1817 and spent the rest of his life mainly in France. He famously gave lessons to Richard Parkes Bonington and was an important influence on his style and technique. [1]


    Many of Francia's early works were 'executed in deep dark tones, both of monochrome and colour washes, and shows the influence of Girtin.' [2] Our drawing appears to be an example of the artist's early work depicting an English country scene. The composition shows a similarity to Girtin and the Monro Academy, along with the connection to the Sketching Society which only allowed monochrome drawings. The country parish church is idylically situated with a country path meandering towards it. This work has excellent provenance and is an excellent example of Francia's skill as a landscape artist.


    Medium: pen and ink with grey wash, signed l.l. 'L.F.', 15.2 x 20.1cm, framed. 


    Provenance: Ex. collection of Colonel Grant; Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, 24 September 1987, lot 178; Private collection U.K.




    [1] Huon Mallalieu (2002), 'The Dictionary of British Watercolour Artists up to 1920: Volume I A-L, Antique Collectors' Club: Woodbridge, p.256. See entry for Francia.


    [2] Ibid., p.256.


    Condition report: generally in good condition for its age. There are a few folds and waves in paper when viewed up close. Some general time staining, please see photographs. The frame shows some wear.

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