(Sellières, 1834 – 1921)
Portrait of Mr. L…
Signed and dated ‘1869’ lower right
53 x 43 cm
Exhibition : 1870, Salon of Paris under the number 3092.
Achille BILLOT is a complete artist, originally from Jura, and surprisingly unknown.
He trained with his friend the sculptor Jean-Joseph PERRAUD (whose eponymous museum of Lons-le-Saunier keeps a portrait by BILLOT), as well as with the Beaux-Arts of Paris in the workshops of BESSON, ROBERT-FLEURY , COGNIET and DUMONT. He then regularly exhibited at the Salon de Paris in section paintings, drawings, sculptures and engravings from 1864 and until 1887 with a predilection for portraits drawing that accounted for most of his shipments.
His qualities of draftsman are also noticed by Victor WAILLE in the lines he dedicates to Comtois painters during the Salon of 1875: "For the best drawings that are at the show, mention those of Mr. Achille Billot (de Sellières), the eminent professor of drawing of the Lons-le-Saunier High School. One of her pencils is Mademoiselle J. R., a laughing, melancholy little girl with a cross on her throat and her hair scattered on her back. Fine drawing, flexible, and a charming effect.
The other is the portrait of the little Chilotte who, with her head thrown back on a cushion, makes a laugh at the public. Drawing quite remarkable, which has the same qualities as the previous one, with a little more finesse and precision. When I see these delicate and expressive drawings of so beautiful a sentiment, I prefer them a hundred times to the number of vulgar oil portraits received at the drawing-room, which are far from having so much relief and life. "
BILLOT was also a drawing teacher at the Lycée de Lons-le-Saunier and later founded the municipal drawing school in the same city, where he remained director for 50 years. He is mentioned in 1879 as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Lons-le-Saunier.
Public collections are only known from his self-portrait at the Musée Sarret de Grozon (Arbois) and his PERRAUD portrait held by the Lons-le-Saunier museum, which also has a Sainte Geneviève by BILLOT acquired by the administration of fine arts in 1872 and donated to the same museum.
Our portrait, similar in style to Louis II of Bavaria, is a drawing quite remarkable, full of finesse and a photographic precision, delicate and expressive at the same time.