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Zocher’s interiors and exteriors

From an archivist’s perspective, in their beauty and perfection, the architectural drawings of J.D. Zocher Jr. and his son are not considered a series. However, they share notable similarities, the most important of which relate to theme and presentation form. The drawings are connected by theme of architecture in a rural setting: country villas and garden structures such as pavilions, orangeries and decorative garden features.

The drawings are notable for their elegant presentation. The refined style has nothing of the sketchy hesitance of design drawings or the technical details of architectural plans. Instead, they exemplify the formal perfection of the presentation drawing, designed to give the layman an appealing portrayal of the architect’s vision. 

A striking element of both the pencil drawings and the watercolours is the contrast in drawing style between building and surroundings. Where in the majority of cases the architecture is precisely drawn, with clear contours bounding the colour, the landscape is rendered far more loosely and sketchily. This contrast relates to a practice of architectural drawing still current today. The main architectonic volumes of a building are always initially set out in definite, firm pencil lines and traced over later in ink then coloured in using a single, flat tone. This stage is followed by adding details, in what might be a very different a technique.

In terms of technique, the drawings fall into two groups. The first is typified by a tightly drawn structure and a landscape rendered finely in watercolour. The second features a more painterly approach to both architecture and landscape: the structure of the paint is clearly visible, the contours are less defined and in many cases the pencil lines haven’t been inked over.

Both groups of drawings share a striking similarity: the creation of light effects in the landscape by scraping off paint to reveal the white of the paper beneath. Although here, too, there is a difference between the refined treatment of the first group and the looser approach of the second. This could mean that the drawings are the handiwork of two people: architect J.D. Zocher Jr. and his son, who originally trained as a painter. The precision and clarity of the architectural style and draughtsmanship of the first group recall the calligraphic style of the French Académie: this could possibly be the early work of J.D. Zocher Jr. (1820). The second group implies a painterly rather than an architectural analysis.

This, in addition to the very disparate architectural style, a flamboyant gothic fantasy, indicates the hand of L.P. Zocher, possibly guided by his father. In the remaining drawings, the contrasting styles with which architecture and landscape are drawn is far more pronounced. An obvious explanation could be that the father drew the architectural elements while the son, as apprentice, drew the landscape. The existence of this type of practice can be seen in an early Zocher drawing which specifically states that he drew the architecture, but someone else had drawn the landscape. After 1830 in particular, when Zocher was increasingly busy, he probably didn’t have the time to provide each sample design with a landscape.

The later drawings would appear to be the work of Louis Paul after completing his apprenticeship with his father. The meticulously precise technical style of architectural drawing is still in evidence while the sketchier detailing, inspired by Schinkel, show that the son worked in his own style.

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