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Abraham Louis Rodolphe Ducros, 1748–1810, Swiss
Ruins of the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum
Watercolor with pen and black ink over graphite on laid paper
Sheet: 20 7/8 x 29 1/8 inches (53 x 74 cm)

Inscribed in watercolor, lower right: "DuCros 1779"

Signed and dated in watercolor, lower right: "DuCros 1779"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
arches | architectural subject | architecture | Grand Tour | horse (animal) | landscape | men | ruins
Associated Places:
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.
Curatorial Comment:
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The Swiss painter Louis Ducros traveled to Rome in 1776 and remained in Italy until 1807. there he became known for his large, elaborately worked watercolors of Italian scenes, frequently featuring ancient ruins, which were much sought after by British visitors to Italy. One of the most important of his British patrons was the antiquary Richard Colt Hoare, who wrote in 1787 that four drawings that Ducros had done for him "will be the admiration of the whole town & put all our English artists, even the great Mr. Smith [John 'Warwick' Smith] to the blush." In 1822 Colt Hoare, who eventually owned thirteen watercolors by Ducros, credited the artist with a key role in the development of watercolor painting in Britain. The advancement from drawing to painting in water-colours did not take place til after the introduction of Louis du Cros, a Swiss artist who settled at Rome. His works proved the force as well as the consequence that could be given to the unsubstantial body of water-colours, and to him I attribute the first knowledge and power if watercolours. Hence have sprung a numerous succession of Artists in this line. Colt Hoare's partiality toward Ducros led him to overestimate the Swiss artists influence on British watercolorists; there is no evidence that the achievements in watercolor by "Warwick" Smith (cat. 74), John Robert Cozens (cats. 103-4 and 142), and other British artists working in Italy were based on a knowledge of Ducros' work. Colt Hoare was, however, an important early patron of J.M.W. Turner (cat. 144), and it is very probably that Turner's large dramatic landscape watercolors of the early years of the nineteenth century reflect his awareness of the Ducros watercolors he would have seen in Colts Hoare's collection
--Scott Wilcox,2001-05
Exhibition History:
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Classic Ground - British Artists and the Landscape of Italy, 1740-1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 1981-07-29 - 1981-09-20)

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05)

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Andrew Wilton, The life and work of J.M.W. Turner, Academy Editions, London, 1979, p. 47, pl. 30, NJ18 T85 +W577 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

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