A Painting by Michel Corneille for the Château de Maisons

1. Michel Ier Corneille (1601-1664)
Ceiling in the cabinet of mirrors
Oil on plaster,
Maisons-Laffitte, château de Maisons
Photo : Didier Rykner

24/9/13 - Acquisition - Maisons-Laffitte, château de Maisons - Three décors by Michel Corneille, the elder, a student of Simon Vouet, are still preserved, a rare case for a French artist of this period. One is religious (a painted chapel in the church of Saint Nicolas des Champs in Paris), the two others are secular : the gallery of the Hôtel Amelot de Bisseuil in Paris, representing The Story of Psyche, and four pieces from the château de Maisons, now Maisons-Laffitte. Unfortunately, in the latter ensemble only the ceiling from the Cabinet of Mirrors remains in good condition (ill. 1), the other décors having been largely repainted [1].

The Centre des Monuments Nationaux, which we have already pointed out has an interesting acquisitions policy of works for furnishing the monuments it manages, did not pass up the chance to purchase a beautiful canvas by Michel Corneille for Maisons from the Coatalem Gallery in Paris (ill. 2). This canvas represents Samson resting peacefully on a rock from antique ruins showing a frieze in the background. We recognize the nude figure, dressed only in draped cloth in a position evoking a river god, due to the donkey’s jaw on the ground with which he has probably just massacred the Philistines. The rest of the warrior, we might say, but a bit lonely (though perhaps better this way than accompanied by Delilah).

2. Michel Ier Corneille (1601-1664)
Oil on canvas - 91 x 98 cm
Maisons-Laffitte, château de Maisons
Photo : Galerie Coatalem

The hero’s impressive muscles, normal enough in the circumstances, is a characteristic often found in Corneille’s art. Although this is an unpublished work, Emmanuel Coquery explains in the exhibition catalogue quoted in our footnote, speaking of another painting, that : "The attention to architecture, precisely described down to the details on the stone, is a [...] trait of [this painter’s] style, as is also the bas-relief on the antique". The same terms can be used to describe this canvas now acquired by the château in Maisons-Laffitte.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 24 septembre 2013


[1] On Michel 1er Corneille, see the exhibition catalogue "Michel Corneille, un peintre du roi au temps de Mazarin" by Emmanuel Coquery (Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 2006)

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