This is an exceptionally early, student work by the ultimately famous and important American-born artist who lived much of his life in Europe. The scene is of a group of fashionably dressed people listening to the guide at left, inside one of Florence's art museums, probably the Uffizi Gallery, the walls hung with pictures, a copyist at his easel, and other tourists gawking at right. The drawing is ink on paper laid on board, and is signed at lower right "Cucuel" and dated there "99". Measurements are 24" by 20", and the work is housed in a narrow old frame. The important San Francisco-born artist EDWARD ALFRED CUCUEL (1875-1954) went on to become a master impressionist, his finest and most desirable works, scenes of figures, often attractive women, in sun-dappled plein air settings, commonly bringing into six figures at major auctions. A high-keyed palette and rich impasto is often employed by the artist, accounting for the appeal of the works and the high prices fetched. Cucuel was the son of a newspaper publisher, and he worked in newspaper illustration while still in his teens. After brief instruction at the School of Design in San Francisco, he was in Paris, studying with masters Benjamin Constant, Jean Leon Gerome, Bouguereau, at the Academie Julian and Academie Colarossi. By 1896 he had returned to New York but stayed there only a short time, returning to Europe, as he seemed driven to study works of the Old Masters. Evidently some of that European time was spent in the art and culture center, Florence, Italy. By 1907 Cucuel was in Berlin, then shortly he settled in Munich where he came under the influence of Leo Putz. Munich was home to Cucuel until the outbreak of World War II forced him to leave Europe. He spent his final years in Pasadena, California. No doubt, Dr. Sabina Fliri, the expert assembling the catalogue raisonne on Cucuel, would find this early and rare work to be most interesting. The drawing shows ample evidence of its age. The paper has browned. There is a large water stain at lower left, a horizontal crack in the paper at right, an old puncture at upper center, and a number of other faults. See the net for much more information on Cucuel and his art. MORE PHOTOS UPON REQUEST (Ruby allows only nine per listing). SEE HUNDREDS OF PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND PRINTS NOW IN MY SHOP, including a pair of oil portraits by the artist.
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