76. Léon Fleury

Paris 1804 – 1858 Paris

The Tomb of Caecilia Metella, c. 1830

Like Caruelle d’Aligny (cat. 77), Fleury would also benefit from Corot’s experiments en plein air and accompany him on sketching expeditions. Their technique and style were so similar that their oil sketches were confused by contemporaries. He arrived in Rome in 1827, after studying with Bertin at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and would remain in Italy until 1830, making occasional trips to Naples. The scenic possibilities of Italy’s ancient monuments are evident in his view of the tomb of Caecilia Metella, which was also painted by Corot. Built at the end of the first century BC, the circular mausoleum stands on the Via Appia just outside Rome. Executed swiftly but with great attention to detail, Fleury’s sketch displays mastery in its fluid handling of paint and sensitivity to colour. The figure of the shepherd adds a sense of scale to the picture, his sheep summarily rendered in quick dashes of paint.