(Joinville-le-Pont (Val-de-Marne) 1803 – 1874 Boulogne-sur-Seine)
A view of Genoa from the East with the Lanterna and the Church of S. Maria Assunta di Carignano
in the distance and the Santuario di Nostra Signora del Monte to the right
signed and dated lower left: A. Lapito 1863
oil on canvas, unlined
26 ⅜ x 51 ⅛ inches (67 x 130 cm.)
sale, Sotheby’s, Paris, 24 June 2009, lot 95.
Paris, Salon, 1863, no. 1093.
This magnificent view is one of three paintings exhibited by Lapito in the Paris Salon of 1863. Although Italy was always a popular destination for vedutisti in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, views of Genoa are rare compared to those of Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. Taken from a viewpoint to the east of the city, our painting shows, to the right, the Santuario di Nostra Signora del Monte, a Franciscan convent dedicated to the Virgin erected in the seventeenth century on the site of a much earlier building. In the distance can be seen the famous Lanterna, a lighthouse 77 meters high built in the sixteenth century on the site of an earlier tower erected in 1128. Christopher Columbus’s uncle was one of the early lighthouse keepers. To the left of it is the dome of the imposing basilica of S. Maria Assunta di Carignano, designed in 1552 by the Genoese architect Galeazzo Alessi. Lapito bathes the view with limpid Mediterranean light, balancing the grand sweep of the composition with a wealth of anecdotal detail, from the peasants gathering grapes in the vineyard to the cart turning a sharp corner down the road on the right.
Aged 15, Lapito entered the atelier of Louis-Etienne Watelet, before continuing his training under François-Joseph Heim. Like many of his contemporaries, he had a Wanderjahr in Italy in 1826, after which he became an indefatigable traveler. He visited Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Italy and Corsica, as well as rural France, painting numerous watercolor views and oil sketches on which his larger oil paintings were based.
During the 1840’s Lapito increasingly allied himself with the naturalistic school of landscape painting, and became a member of the group of classically-trained French nineteenth-century landscape painters, such as Corot, who sought to regenerate historical landscape painting through the attentive study of nature. In 1843 he exhibited with the Maîtres Vivants in Holland and painted landscapes near Fontainebleau, home of the Barbizon School. Lapito was a prolific artist exhibiting regularly at the Paris Salon from 1827 to 1870. He won a first class medal in the Salon of 1835 and his official success was crowned with the award of the Légion d’honneur in 1837. A number of his pictures were acquired by the French State and are now in museums in Menton, Valence, and Villefranche-sur-Saone.