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The Spinner , Attribued to Anthelme Trimolet
The Spinner , Attribued to Anthelme Trimolet - Paintings & Drawings Style The Spinner , Attribued to Anthelme Trimolet -
Ref : 111502
Period :
19th century
Provenance :
Medium :
Oil on canvas
Dimensions :
l. 21.26 inch X H. 25.59 inch
Paintings & Drawings  - The Spinner , Attribued to Anthelme Trimolet 19th century - The Spinner , Attribued to Anthelme Trimolet
Galerie Magdeleine

Paintings and drawings from the 17th to the 19th century

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The Spinner , Attribued to Anthelme Trimolet

Circa 1820-1825.
Oil on canvas.

Seated in front of a window, a woman spins the wool wrapped around the distaff she holds in her left hand, while her right hand turns the wheel of her spinning wheel. The room in which the scene is set is bathed in soft light, highlighting such minute details as the reflections on the wood of the spinning wheel, the basket of spun wool resting on a footrest, the leather of the shoes delicately placed on the carpet and the small jewellery box represented on the mantelpiece, whose fire glows discreetly behind the cloth placed on the chair. A knotted cloth nonchalantly holds back the hair of the spinner, who is wearing a shirt whose play of transparency on the embroidery is rendered by a very slight impasto of the lines around the edge of the fabric, which contrasts with the heavy red petticoat covering her legs.

This painting is undoubtedly by Anthelme Trimolet, a painter from Lyon renowned for the meticulousness of his work, inspired by the Dutch masters and updated by his work on 19th-century genre scenes.
Anthelme Claude Honoré Trimolet was born in Lyon. His father was an embroidery designer who, following the French Revolution, turned to metal painting. He entered the Lyon School of Fine Arts at the age of ten. He won prizes in several classes from 1810, with the Principles class, in 1812 he won the silver medal in the Bosse class, in 1813 for Figure from Life and, finally, the coveted Laurier d'Or in 1815, exempting him from military service[1]. His teacher was the painter Pierre-Henri Révoil (1776-1842), who also taught Claude Bonnefond (1796-1860), Michel-Philibert Genod (1795-1862), Augustin Alexandre Thierriat (1789-1870) and Jean-Marie Jacomin (1789-1858), who were the leaders of a movement that was first described as the "Lyon School" at the Salon of 1819.
It was at this same Salon that Trimolet won a gold medal for his mechanic's workshop, commissioned by Professor Ennemond Eynard. The artist's skilful eye for detail, following his discovery of the Dutch masters during his first trip to Paris, was noticed by the Duc de Berry, who commissioned a painting from him, which was not completed before his assassination in 1823. He also met the Marquis Victor de Costa, a close friend of the King of Sardinia, through whom he obtained a commission for the Prince de Carrignan. This was the artist's first large-scale historical scene, the deputies of the Council of Basel presenting the tiara to Amédée VII, which he presented to the Prince in Turin in 1831.

Suffering from what he described as "languor"[2], Anthelme Trimolet does not seem to have sought to develop his official career despite his initial successes. However, the number of portraits he produced testifies to the fact that his brush was sought after by Lyon's notables, as Aimé Vingtrinier points out in his portrait of the artist:
"He shunned glamour and noise, but the city's leading families sought the favour of posing for him. These canvases, carefully preserved in private galleries, have not been subjected to the judgment of the public or the criticism of newspapers; they will not enhance the artist's name until the brush has fallen from his hand and art has contemplated with horror the loss he has made" [3].
His marriage to one of his pupils, Edma Saunier (Lyon, 1802 - Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu, 1878) in 1824 endowed him with a large fortune, his wife being the daughter of a wealthy landowner. Through their archives and collections, the couple left a touching testimony to an engaging couple, curious about everything and prolific in their artistic creations through sketchbooks and diaries. The Trimolet couple amassed more than 2,000 works from the 1825s onwards, with a strong taste for the Haute Epoque and the Middle Ages. This veritable museum of books, paintings, furniture and sculptures was bequeathed to the Musée de Dijon following the death of Edma Trimolet in 1878.
Thanks to this bequest, the entirety of the couple's drawing collection came to the museum, but only a few paintings by Edma and Anthelme Trimolet are now in the museum's collection. A study of the Trimolet collection does, however, shed light on the development of the artist's career and allows us to link the Fileuse to the period following Trimolet's first success, Interior of a Mechanic's Workshop, 1819.
We have noted that, among the dated drawings, domestic and intimate genre scenes are concentrated in the period 1820-1830. After 1830, we know only of portraits and a few scenes inspired by Dante's Inferno.

The style is similar to a painting in the Musée de Dijon, Portrait de son père et de sa mère jouant aux cartes, which is also unsigned. The latter still seems to bear some of the stiffness of his youth, as well as a finish in detail that is less advanced than the Fileuse but has all the characteristic features that would make the artist famous: abundant detail, materials rendered by light impastos, velvety brushwork, highly drawn and detailed hands, etc.

All these elements are found, more fully developed, in Intérieur d'un atelier de mécanicien (Interior of a Mechanic's Workshop). The lighting is provided by a side window, which forms a lighter halo around the heads of the protagonists, the draperies have the same velvety heaviness and the details are adorned with sparkling points of light in the Dutch manner.

Another drawing from the Trimolet collection at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, depicting a Woman Reading, uses the same type of composition, with a heavy drape running back between the protagonist's legs. The somewhat restrained attitude is also typical of the artist.

At a time when the arrival of the Romantics was calling into question the pictorial techniques that were the artist's speciality, he pointed out in his correspondence the contradictions in taste that he had to face:
"This controversy quickly spread, especially in the provinces, a disfavour for art and artists. It was no longer fashionable to admire painting, but on the contrary, to criticise it. What had been praised in us then became our greatest flaw. - It's microscopic, my dear; so go wide! Put on thick colours and leave the needlework to the nuns. - Your paintings look like porcelain, so make them crisp and easy! - Look at Bonington, look at Delacroix, etc...; - and the odd thing was, these same people would come to me to have their portraits done, recommending that I paint them finely, and not spare the details that, they said, I did so well! - It was enough to demoralise the best head!"[4].

Illustrations :

Anthelme Trimolet. Interior of a mechanic's workshop, oil on canvas, 1819, Inv. A33. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.

Anthelme Trimolet, Portrait of his father and mother playing cards, oil on canvas, 19th century, Inv. CA T 120. Bequest from Anthelme and Edma Trimolet, 1878 © Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon/ François Jay.

Anthelme Trimolet. Woman reading, black pencil on paper, Inv. CA T 203. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.

References :

[1] Élisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Étienne Grafe, Portraitistes lyonnais (1800-1924) (cat. exp., Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, June-September 1986), Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1986

[2] Lyon municipal archives. Reference 65II/129. Autobiography and list of his painted works, written and given by himself to Aimé Vingtrinier.

[3] Aimé Vingtrinier, La paresse d'un peintre lyonnais, Lyon, 1866, pp. 10-11.

[4] Élisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Étienne Grafe, Portraitistes lyonnais, op. cit.

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