ECOLE DES BEAUX-ARTS
Sarcophage de Scipion
[Paris: circa 1850]. Pencil, pen and wash drawing, with numerous, detailed measurements. Sheet size: 26 x 20 inches.
A fascinating and beautiful drawing--or "rendu"--of an ancient Roman sarcophagus.
A fine drawing from an architectural student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the most influential architectural school in existence during much of the 18th century, the whole of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. 'Students were eligible for the Ecole if they were at least fifteen years old, or under thirty. They began with the seconde classe, in which they competed in the concours d'émulation. These alternated between an esquisse --a rough sketch for which up to twelve hours was allowed--and a rendu --the large-scale finished drawing for which one to three months were allowed...Two to four years were usually required for a student to accumulate enough credits to enter the première classe. The same system was followed again, usually for two to three years, after which the student should have accumulated enough credits to compete for the Grand Prix de Rome. The winner of the Grand Prix was entitled to five years study under the auspices of the French Academy in Rome... For each of his first three years he was required to submit an analytical study of an ancient monument. For his fourth year he had to submit a complete reconstruction of a major classical work. For his fifth year he was required to submit an original work designed to a program of his own invention... "This study of the sarcophagus of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus was part of an Ecole de Beaux Arts student's portfolio. The sarcophagus was one of many in the Scipio family tomb on the Via Appia just outside of Roma, and it dates from c. 290 B.C. The obituary text reads, English, "Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus, son of Gnaeus, a valiant gentleman and wise, whose fine form matched his bravery very well, was aedile, consul and censor among you, he conquered Taurasia and Cisauna, in fact, Samnium, he overcame all the Lucanian lands and brought back hostages."
Arthur Drexler, The Architecture of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. New York, MoMA, 1977.