Two Studies by Papety for the Musée Vivenel

1. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Study for Dream of Happiness, 1841
Oil on Canvas - 16.6 x 35.8 cm
Compiègne, Musée Antoine Vivenel
Photo : Musée Antoine Vivenel

20/11/12 - Acquisitions - Compiègne, Musée Vivenel - "There are, in the cool air of the garden, / Lovers sitting on the soft grass, / Negligently dressed with satin jackets, / Chatting of love, dancing or playing the viol [1]..." The Dream of Happiness which Dominique Papety, a student of Léon Cogniet and winner of the Prix de Rome in 1836, presented at the Salon of 1843 probably revealed Charles Fourier’s influence and inspired a great many critics. While Désiré Laverdant asserted in La Phalange that the painter’s thinking is profound and that "he sets down an immense utopia on the canvas", Louis Peisse in La Revue des deux mondes admitted he did not understand a single thing about the philosophical thinking behind the painting and smirked at the artist’s first draft with a background showing a steamship and electrical wires meant to symbolize progress as a source of happiness. In any case, this Rêve caused a sensation and was acquired by Antoine Vivenel the following year. This wealthy entrepreneur who made his fortune in the construction business in Paris, amassed a collection of 4,000 art objects ranging from Antiquity to the contemporary era which he bequeathed to the city of Compiègne to create a universal museum bearing his name for the artistic edification of its residents. Papety’s large painting was however not exhibited after 1939.

2. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Study for Dream of Happiness, 1841
Oil on Canvas - 58.4 x 96.5 cm
Compiègne, Musée Antoine Vivenel
Photo : Galerie De Bayser

3. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Head Study for Dream of Happiness, 1841
Compiègne, Musée Antoine Vivenel
Photo : Musée Vivenel

The work is now undergoing restoration at the C2RMF in Versailles and will soon be presented in the galleries of the Musée Vivenel, itself now renewed and enlarged, as the curator, Claire Iselin explained to us. In fact, the collections have recently been rounded out by two preparatory studies for Dream of Happiness, or at least the dream : one was acquired in November 2011, seems almost abstract, revealing the artist’s manner of working and his reflection on how to dispose the masses in the composition (ill. 1) ; the second, which is larger and more accomplished, was acquired this month from the Galerie de Bayser and reveals the evolution of the drawing and Papety’s hesitations (ill. 2).
These two studies complete the fifteen works painted or drawn by this artist which include another study for Dream... and a Head of a Bearded Man (ill. 3) donated in 2009 by the Amis du musée. The Musée Fabre in Montpellier, which owns many works by Papety, holds three preparatory watercolors for this monumental canvas, two of which were bequeathed by Alfred Bruyas.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, vendredi 23 novembre 2012


[1] L’Illustration, n°4, 25 March 1843.

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