Two Troubadour Paintings Acquired by Bourg-en-Bresse

3/2/14 - Acquisitions - Bourg-en-Bresse, Monastère royal de Brou - From April to September of this year, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon is staging an important restrospective highlighting troubadour painters, in asociation with the Musée de Brou. Bourg-en-Bresse, which already holds an extensive number of works from this school, has just acquired a pair of paintings by Rosalie Caron representing Mathilde and Malek-Adhel at Montmorency’s Tomb for the first, purchased from the Etienne Bréton gallery in Paris, and Mathilde Surprised in the Damiette Gardens by Malek-Adhel for the second, a donation made by the Friends of the museum.

1. Rosalie Caron (1790- ?)
Mathilde surprised in the
Damiette Gardens by Malek-Adhel
, 1817
Oil on canvas - 120 x 100 cm
Bourg-en-Bresse, Monastère royale de Brou
Photo : Saint-Honoré Art Consulting

2. Rosalie Caron (1790- ?)
Mathilde and Malek-Adhel at Montmorency’s Tomb, 1814
Oil on canvas - 120 x 100 cm
Bourg-en-Bresse, Monastère royale de Brou
Photo : Saint-Honoré Art Consulting

The artist is not very well known and remains relatively obscure. Born in 1790, a student of Jean-Baptiste Regnault, she exhibited at the Salon several times between 1812 and 1833 ; we know nothing of when she died. The Bellier-Auvray dictionary, which should be read with precaution as it is often approximative in its information, does not enlighten us any further [1]. Whatever the case, these two works correspond perfectly to the definition of the troubadour style : narrative historical scenes, often taken from literature, painted in a very detailed and porcelain-like manner inspired by Northern European art. The works are often small in size with these two being somewhat of an exception to the rule as they measure 1.20 high. Although they were displayed at the Salon with an interval of three years (the first one in 1814 and the second in 1817), these two canvases of identical size with corresponding compositions are companion pieces. The subject is drawn from the novel Mathilde ou Mémoires tirés de l’histoire des croisades [Mathilde or Memoires drawn from the history of the Crusades] published by Sophie Cottin in 1805.
The second painting, produced in 1817, precedes the one executed in 1814 in the chronological narrative of the story being depicted. We see Malek-Adhel, Saladin’s brother, declaring his love for Mathilde, the sister of Richard the Lionheart who is holding her captive in Damiette : "O you, he tells her, who have made a new being of me, daughter of heaven, angelical beauty !... You who surpass all the beauty I have seen in my life, who inflame me with an ardent fire I dare not extinguish, and which I fear to speak of to you... You who already dispose of my will and my life, where did you find your power ?". However, Mathilde has been promised by Richard the Lionheart to Lusignan. She withdraws to meditate in the burial vault housing the grave of Josselin de Montmorency (another of her suitors, who died during the siege of Saint-Jean-d’Acre) and is joined there by Malek-Adhel who does not want to convert out of loyalty for his brother. A cruel dilemma : "Next to you, I am an enemy to my people ; you whom my country loaths, you who have refused to acknowledge my God ; I am here thanks to my determination, I will remain due to my weakness ; my conscience cries out, is incensed, I no longer hear it or hear it only to be torn in two but with no resolution ; this is my position, Malek-Adhel, and you ask me why I am so upset ! And you want me to be calm and listen to you ?".
Rosalie Caron faithfully illustrates these inflamed statements, with Mathilde presenting all the signs of modesty indicative of the chastity she will observe until the end of the novel.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 4 février 2014


[1] In fact, it does not even give her birthdate which we found in the entry provided by the seller although we do not know the source.

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