Alexandre Gabriel DECAMPS
(Paris, 1803 – Fontainebleau, 1860)
Oil on canvas
Monogrammed lower right
73 x 59cm
Alexandre Gabriel Decamps was born in Paris on the third day of the third month of the third year of the current century, i.e., March 3, 1803.
During his early youth, Decamps met in boarding school Philibert Bouchot - son of the painter François Bouchot - and as soon as he was able to do so, he entered as a pupil with his father. He will leave Bouchot for the studio of Abel de Pujol, whose painting of the Martyrdom of Saint-Etienne had just placed among the best painters of his time. Disappointed by academic teaching, he was therefore formed mainly through contact with paintings by old masters and more particularly Rembrandt. He was one of the first French orientalist painters, he found his subjects during a trip to the Levant where he stayed in 1828 with his friend the painter Hippolyte Garneray. Decamps distinguished himself early on by the originality of his productions and was during his lifetime as famous as Delacroix, as evidenced by these few lines by Baudelaire:
“M. Decamps is one of those who, for many years, have despotically occupied the curiosity of the public, and nothing could be more legitimate.
This artist, endowed with a marvelous faculty of analysis, often arrived, by a happy competition of small means, at results of a powerful effect. – If he avoided too much the detail of the line and was often satisfied with the movement or the general contour, if sometimes this drawing bordered on the chic, – the meticulous taste of nature, studied especially in its luminous effects, had always saved and maintained in a superior region. ". Charles Baudelaire, Œuvres complètes : Curiosités esthétiques, v. 2, édité par Théophile Gautier, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, [s.d].
Attached to the French romantic school by art historians, he exhibited at the Paris Salon between 1827 and 1855 genre paintings and landscapes borrowed from eastern countries that attracted attention. He also treated some historical subjects; but he especially enjoyed painting animals (horses, donkeys, dogs, monkeys), hunting scenes and realistic genre subjects like our painting.
Decamps was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor on June 27, 1839 and an officer on May 2, 1851.
The artist died in Fontainebleau on August 22, 1860 following a bad fall from his horse during a hunt he was following. A monument was erected in Fontainebleau in his memory in 1862 by his friends and whose sculpture was made by Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.
Museums: Paris (Mus. du Louvre), Chantilly (Mus. Condé), London (Wallace Coll.), Brest, Washington, New York, Moscow…
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