Recent Acquisitions at the Musée de la Révolution française in Vizille


1. Antoine Dubost (1769-1825)
Brutus Bidding Farewell to Porcia, 1799
Oil on Canvas - 114 x 146.5 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Galerie Michel Descours

20/2/12 - Acquisitions - Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française - Since our last article highlighting this establishment (see news item of 4/11/10), the museum in Vizille has made some significant acquisitions.
The first notable purchase (which has just been finalized) concerns a painting by Antoine Dubost (ill.1), a neo-Classical painter from Lyon who studied under François-André Vincent and exhibited twice at the Parisian Salon before emigrating to England in 1806. There, he achieved instant success the following year at the Royal Academy with the support of Thomas Hope. But after a fallout with him and losing a court battle, Dubost was forced to return to France in January 1813, ruined and with all his goods confiscated. His most important work, The Sword of Damocles, recently resurfaced at the Bombay Museum (see news item of 30/8/06 in French).
The canvas acquired by the Musée de la Révolution française had already been mentioned on this site at the time of the last exhibition at the Michel Descours Gallery [1] (see news item of 12/12/10). Indeed, the museum purchased the work, which comes from England, from this gallery in Lyon. This Brutus Bidding Farewell to Porcia had been exhibited by the artist at the Salon of 1799. Brutus had to flee after assassinating Caesar. His wife Porcia who accompanies him to the boat on which he will escape, sees at the same moment a painting representing Hector’s Farewell to Andromache. Sensing a bad omen, - Andromache never saw Hector again - she faints.


2. Jules Aviat (1844-1931)
Charlotte Corday and Marat, vers 1880
Oil on Canvas - 72 x 52 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Galerie Vincent Lécuyer

3. Jules Aviat (1844-1931)
Charlotte Corday and Marat, 1880
Oil on Canvas - 281 x 200.5 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
(on deposit from Musée des Beaux-Arts of Rouen)
Photo : D. R.


The museum at Vizille, besides works created during the French Revolution, also purchases retrospective paintings illustrating historical episodes which took place during that time.
One of the most emblematic is the assassination of Marat by Juliette Corday. A study for the subject (ill. 2), preparatory for the Jules Aviat painting, on deposit at Vizille since 2003 but belonging to the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Rouen (ill. 3), was acquired in 2011 from the Parisian gallery, Vincent Lécuyer.
A student of Ernest Hébert and of Léon Bonnat, Aviat was an obscure artist, essentially a portraitist for figures of high society from what little is known. The Charlotte Corday and Marat exhibited at the Salon of 1880, is however an impressive painting. No doubt aware that it was impossible for him to rival Louis David’s artistry, a veritable icon of painting with a particularly original sense of composition but in which Charlotte Corday is missing, Aviat here alludes rather to the work of Paul Baudry who, twenty years earlier, had painted the same subject in a very similar composition (Nantes, Musée des Beaux-Arts).
The study for the museum in Vizille presents almost no differences with the completed painting, except for the expression and the direction in which Charlotte Corday is looking, also the absence of the dagger (it was scratched out in the study) and, particularly, the position of the assassinated Marart. The incomplete state of this figure gives the work a fantastic connotation - the friend of the people resembles a specter from a Shakespearian or Ossianic scene - far from the realism sought by the artist in the final painting.


4. Munier (active in Paris
at the end of the 18th century)
Voltaire, early 1790’s
Terracotta - H. 23 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française

5. Munier (active in Paris
at the end of the 18th century)
Jean-Sifrein Maury, early 1790’s
Terracotta - H. 23 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française


Two small terracotta busts representing Voltaire and Jean-Sifrein Murray (ill. 4 and 5) joined the museum in 2010, acquired from the Patrice Bellanger Gallery in Paris. They are by Munier, a talented but here again, obscure artist for whom we do not know his dates of birth or death, nor even his first name. In 2005, the Musée de la Révolution française had already purchased a bust of Mirabeau which was probably part of the same series since the size and the base are all identical.


6. Jean-Baptiste Nini (1720-1786)
Benjamin Franklin with a fur cap, 1777
Terracotta - D. 11.3 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française


Another small terracotta sculpture, a medallion by Jean-Baptiste Nini (ill. 6) was acquired by the museum in 2010 from the Philippe Chabert Gallery in Grenoble. The model, Benjamin Franklin with a fur cap is one of the most famous works produced by the artist from a painting by Thomas Walpole. There are several replicas in French collections : at the Louvre, in Ecouen, Blérancourt, Blois, Bordeaux, Angers... Nini is also the author of another portrait of Franklin, this time without the cap.


7. Etienne-Henry Dumaige (1830-1888)
Camille Desmoulins, Palais Royal, 1789, 1882
Bronze - 97.5 x 53 x 42 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française

8. Paul-François Choppin (1856-1937)
A victor at the Bastille, 1889-1890
Bronze - H. 63 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française


In 1881, the city of Guise organized a design competition for a monument in memory of Camille Desmoulins awarded to Amédée Doublemard. Among the other competitors there was also Etienne-Henry Dumaige who edited his rejected project in bronze, representing the orator holding forth before a crowd at the Palais-Royal gardens. One of these replicas joined the museum collections in 2010 (ill. 7), acquired from a private collection.
Another bronze depicting a revolutionary (ill. 8), by Paul-François Choppin, was purchased at auction in Fontainebleau (at Osenat’s) on 7 November 2010. This is a reduced version of a sculpture erected in 1881 at the square Parmentier in Paris and melted down during the Occupation in 1942. Another version, entitled The Volunteer of 1792 is still standing in Remiremont in the Vosges region.


9. François-Louis Gounod (1758-1823)
Be worthy of serving your country one day, my son, 1793-1794
Black Chalk and Black Ink - 19 x 15 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Galerie Michel Descours


A drawing by François-Louis Gounod (ill. 9), representing a young boy in profile wearing a police cap, was donated by Michel Descours in 2012. The artist, who was a student of Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié, is none other than the father of the composer. Two of his pastels (Benjamin Duvivier and the Presumed Portrait of the Marquis de Wailly reside at the Louvre and the entry written by Neil Jeffares in his excellent Dictionary of pastellists before 1800 [2] for this artist is available here.

Finally, we would like to point out some art objects acquired by the museum, including :


10. A. Vaillant, in Paris
A portico clock with mixed dial , c.1793-1794
Marble and Gilt Bronze, émail - 56 x 38 x 15 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française


- A portico clock with mixed dial (ill. 10), acquired from Jacques Tcharny in Paris : it presents a double display indicating ordinary time (24 hours days divided into 60 minutes) and that of the 1793 reform which, starting on 22 September 1794, was to divide the day into 10 hours of 100 minutes, each composed of 100 seconds. This reform was repealed on 7 April 1795.


11. Unidentified Delft factory
Free and Faithful, c.1783-1787
plate in white faience with blue decor - H. 21 cm
Vizille, Musée de la Révolution française
Photo : Musée de la Révolution française


- A Delft faience plate, acquired from the H.C. Van Vliet Gallery in Amsterdam (ill. 11).

- A Nevers faience plate, acquired from J. M. Béalu et fils in Paris.

- A Roanne faience wedding plate, donated by Michel Descours.

Version française


Didier Rykner, mardi 21 février 2012


Notes

[1] We have taken our information concerning the painter from the entry written by Mehdi Korchane in the Michel Descours Gallery catalogue.

[2] The internet version of this dictionary is now illustrated.



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