A Painting by Emmanuel Leutze Donated by the American Friends of the Louvre

Emmanuel Leutze (1816-1868)
Christopher Columbus Standing Before
the Council of Salamanca
, 1841
Oil on Canvas - 80 x 103 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : RMN-GP/P. Fuzeau

31/08/12 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - The "Painting of the Month" n° 192 at the Louvre (in fact exhibited for three months this summer until 3 September) highlighted a recent donation made by the American Friends of the Louvre. This is a painting by Emmanuel Leutze, representing Christopher Columbus standing before the Council of Salamanca (ill.) which resurfaced at a Bonham’s auction in New York last 29 November.

Born in Germany near the city of Stuttgart in 1816, Emmanuel Leutze emigrated with his family to the United States in 1825 when he was nine years old. Educated in Philadelphia, he went to Düsseldorf in 1841 to continue his training and can thus be considered a painter of this school, featured by the Museum Kunstpalast in a remarkable exhibition (see article in French) last year where Leutze was extensively represented.
In the text accompanying its presentation at the Louvre [1], Guillaume Faroult points out the influence of Karl Friedrich Lessing visible in this painting. While obviously hard to deny, we should however remark that the painting recalls above all Paul Delaroche whose importance for the Düsseldorf school was underscored in the 2011 exhibition catalog. This is thus a valuable donation for the Louvre in more ways than one : first off, it enriches the American collection which is one of the priorities of the museum’s acquisitions policy ; secondly, it adds a work by an artist from the Düsseldorf school which is poorly represented except for a landscape by Lessing ; finally, it joins another recent donation (in the form of a promised gift) of a painting also strongly influenced by Paul Delaroche, The Young Gaston, the Angel of Foix by Claudius Jacquand.

Christopher Columbus Standing before the Council of Salamanca was painted by Leutze early on during his stay in Düsseldorf, in 1841, and was exhibited in Cologne in 1842, in Munich in 1858 [2]. The navigator is shown in 1846 before the Council of Wise Men defending his project of opening a route for Europe to the East Indies by sailing west. The artist later produced two other paintings of similar format on the subject of Christopher Columbus, The Return of Christopher Columbus Chained in Cadiz (1842) residing in a private collection and Christopher Columbus before the Queen (1843) belonging to the Brooklyn Museum.
Guillaume Faroult also explains that after Leutze several American painters illustrated this same episode in Columbus’ life, notably William Henry Powell in 1847 (Phoenix Art Museum) and William Merrit Chase around 1876 (two studies held at the LACMA).

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 3 septembre 2012


[1] It is available at the reception desk under the pyramid but has unfortunately not been posted on the museum’s website.

[2] This information was drawn from the historical background provided in the Bonham’s sale catalog.

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