Offered by Galerie de Lardemelle
Julien VALLOU de VILLENEUVE
(Boissy-Saint-Léger, 1795 – Paris, 1866)
An Indian girl playing with a parrot
Oil on canvas
Signed lower left
54 x 41 cm
Collection stamp of red wax on the frame
Salon de Paris of 1835, under the number 2065
Probably Salon de Besançon of 1840
Engraving of our composition, by Henri Swebach, published by Victor Delarue in 1836
Souty Collection (acquired at the Salon of 1835)
Julien Vallou de Villeneuve remains better known today for his activity as a photographer, but he was in his time a lithographer and a genre painter very fashionable.
Coming from a wealthy family (his father was a recipient of the national estates), he is a student of Garneray (Louis-Ambroise it seems) and probably the miniaturist Frédéric Millet, and exhibited his paintings for the first time at the Salon de Douai from 1823 and his lithographs at the Paris Salon of 1824. He engraved his own drawings and paintings but also those of other artists such as Danloux or Franquelin. Soon enough, he is attracted by genre topics, rather gallant or even erotic, as well as by ethnography and a form of exoticism. Many of his works are staged black: The dance of Negroes, African dance, The negro in love, Little master that I love ... But it is a kind and sweet exoticism, even cutesy and inconsistent, typical of the July Monarchy, sometimes an excuse for eroticism as in our painting with the bare breast of the young Indian. Some elements speak to the imagination of the public, but there is no particular message, neither in the spirit of the "good savage" nor in that of the fight against slavery.
His style and his style bring him closer for example to a painter like Jules David-Lecamus, as several critical comments emphasize:
- "the natural, a correct design, a fine color ... its elegant and spiritual manner ... the charm of his figures always so graceful ..." in The Journal of Fine Arts and Literature in 1839
- "very finished works, very finished ..." at the Salon of 1846.
- The critic of the Rouen Salon of 1835, where Vallou exhibits four paintings and lithographs, sums up his qualities and his weaknesses: "... a finish of paint and a touch of fluffiness ... but for us, to whom the memories of Mieris and Gerard are still present, we feel too much what is missing in the manner of Mr. Vallou de Villeneuve to grant him, without restriction, our praise. We do not irrevocably condemn this kind of painting, and our antipathy for all that seems licked does not prevent us from appreciating what is graceful and clever in the paintings of M. Vallou ... "
- "Two Arab women with a fountain: it is one of the most beautiful pieces of the Salon ... attitudes both simple and graceful, a flexible modeling, pure, mellow. The color is warm, harmonious and suave "in The Journal of Fine Arts and Literature of April 10, 1836.
However, as early as 1838, the Journal des Artistes warned him not to fall asleep on his successes. And indeed this decline of success occurs, and this is probably what prompted Vallou to turn in 1842 to photography, then nascent, which does not prevent him from continuing to exhibit at the Salon until 1849. After having long lived rue des Moulins in Paris, he moved his studio in 1846 in the current 9th arrondissement, at 18 rue Bleue. He opened a photography studio there in 1850 and specialized in photographic studies "after nature": these are small shots depicting portraits of actors, people and especially female nude posing, mainly intended for the use of painters, who could then save the model. Through the collector Alfred Bruyas, he meets Gustave Courbet, who will use the photos of Vallou for many of his paintings. He seems to stop his photographic activity in 1855.
Known for his generosity, he is the founder and perpetual donor of the Artists Association; likewise, in his will he bequeaths to his hometown a rent on the State of 400 francs, to be attributed each year to a poor person, who has best merited this reward by his virtues and his good conduct. It was during a painter's meeting with Baron Taylor that he died of aneurysm rupture.
Originally in the collections of the Souty merchant, our painting was displayed at the Salon de Besançon in the summer of 1840, where it was acquired by the Society of Friends of the Arts or by a local amateur. On this occasion he received the following criticism of the Journal des Artistes, which also refers to his second painting on display: "Kind and graceful painter, Mr. Vallou de Villeneuve, who draws his inspirations only in interesting episodes of private life in the provinces, as well as in Paris, obtained a legitimate success. This young Greek is a charming study. "
As early as 1836, the composition had been engraved, while with another work of the Salon of 1835, A woman on the seashore was waiting for the ship to bring back her lover. The promotion on the release of the two prints was made in the Independent of August 7, 1836: "Two charming prints representing, one An Indian girl playing with her parrot, the other An African girl waiting for the ship that must bring her lover . These two drawings, which are remarkable in terms of local color and the study of nature, were perfectly executed by the artist, who especially made the transparency of the light. The young Indian woman and the African woman are of sufficient size to ornament a study. We recommend them to lovers of beautiful and good engravings. Price: 10 each.
The first owner of the painting, Antoine Souty, was one of the principal framers / gilders, merchants of colors and paintings of the time; he owned at least two other paintings of Vallou: La batelière du lac de Brientz (exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1835), and the disadvantages of the fake forelock (exposed to that of 1838), which were offered for sale from his January 1847.
As for the Indian theme of our painting, it appears rather rare in the first half of the nineteenth century: a dozen works at the Salon, among which a Scheherazade by Felix Cottreau in 1833, a Panther of the Indies in watercolor by Barye in 1833, a Sacrifice of the widow of a Bramin by Biard (also attracted by the exotic) in 1838, a Tiger Hunt in the Indies by Emile Lessore in 1847.