Charles Marie BOUTON
(Paris, 1781 – Paris, 1853)
View of the Thermes de Cluny
Oil on canvas
Signature trace on the bottom left
84x 63,5 cm
Related work: exhibited painting at the Salon of Paris in 1814, under the number 149
Our painting is an autograph version of the Salon de 1814 painting titled Vue du Palais des Thermes, commonly called Bains de Caesar and which was quickly placed in the Luxembourg Palace. It would then have been in Saint-Cloud (but it does not appear in the inventory of 1842), and is now considered destroyed or lost.
The work was a real success; it was resumed in print by Bernard-Romain JULIEN (1802-1871) in 1836 (a copy preserved in the museum of Cluny).
There is a version kept in the museum Calvet d’Avignon (1 x 0.8 m), described as DAGUERRE since the donation PUECH of 1986. The confusion with DAGUERRE can be explained by the stylistic proximity of the two artists (who will collaborate d elsewhere in 1822 to the realization of the visual attraction that was the Diorama).
It is in the figures that our painting differs from the original version, since the two drawing characters (described as such in the description of the painting when it is in Luxembourg, and visible on the lithography of JULIEN of 1836) are here replaced by four monks, drawing them too.
Regarding the place represented, it is very much inspired by the Frigidarium still in place today. It is the only part of the Cluny thermal baths that still has its original Roman vault, which is more than 14 meters high and is among the best preserved in the north of France.
The statue depicted in the composition of BOUTON is still presented in these places and is known as Julien the Apostate, named after the Emperor of the fourth century. Recent research now links the work to the reign of Hadrian (2nd century), which leads to seeing there the image of an anonymous priest.