- Museum number
Study for 'Poussin on the Banks of the Tiber' (Le Poussin sur les bords du Tibre) (1855); a Roman peasant woman wearing head-dress, holding large dish on right hip, with a cloth draped over her right arm, one leg raised on step; . c.1857
Pen and black and brown ink over black and white chalk
Verso: Study for 'Christians entering the amphitheatre' in the Musée d'Orsay (1855); a deacon comforting a young man
Pen and ink over black chalk, with watercolour and bodycolour
- Production date
- 1850-1855 (circa)
Height: 382 millimetres
Width: 255 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The recto study is for a Roman washerwoman on the right side of the painting, 'Poussin on the banks of the Tiber' of 1855 exhibited at the Salon of 1857 (Aubrun, no. 205, p. 171; sold Christie's, New York, 2 May 2000, lot 8). The painting depicts Poussin observing a group of washerwomen, one of whom is washing a baby. The conceit is that this scene inspired the composition of Poussin's 'Finding of Moses' painting of 1638 now in the Louvre. A compositional drawing of a related theme, 'Poussin conceiving his Eliezer and Rebecca painting', but as far as is known not turned into a painting, is also in the BM, 1972,0916.2. Benouville's painting is cited in Richard Verdi's study of the theme, see 'Poussin's Life in Nineteenth-Century Pictures', "The Burlington Magazine", 111, 801, (December 1969), pp. 741-747.
The two figures on the verso are studies for the central pair of Christian martyrs in his 1855 painting of 'Christians entering the amphitheatre' in the Musée d'Orsay ( inv. 20042; Aubrun no. 162). In the final work, the figure on the right of the deacon is a female saint, Blandina, but in the early stages, including a finished watercolour in the Louvre of 1851 exhibited at the Salon in 1852 (Aubrun D. 163), both were male as in the BM drawing. The artist conceived the painting when he was still a student at the Villa Medici in Rome in 1850, as is shown by a dated pen-and-wash study for the martyrs in Angers, Aubrun D. 165.
Lit.: M.-M. Aubrun, 'Léon Bénouville 1821-1859: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre', Nantes, 1981, no. D. 219 (recto) and D. 173 (verso)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996, BM, French Drawings from the BM, (no cat.)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number