Offered by Galerie de Frise
(Paris 1800 - Versailles 1870)
Squire training the horse of King Louis XVIII
Oil on canvas (original)
H. 24.5 cm. L. 33 cm
Signed and dated lower left, 1819
Provenance: Cabinet of Monsieur de Villers; Sale of June 19, 1992, Drouot, Couturier-de Nicolaÿ study, Catalog No. 68 - Price excluding charges: 225,000 Francs, or the equivalent of € 34,300 excluding charges; Mark Brady Gallery, New York; Private American collection.
Sometimes reduced to a simple imitator of his father Jacques-François Swebach-Desfontaines (1769-1823), Bernard-Edouard demonstrates astonishing artistic maturity in this veritable little masterpiece produced at only 19 years old.
Although his name has remained quite famous among lovers of ancient painting, little biographical information is known to us. Le Bénézit specifies that Bernard-Edouard entered the Beaux-Arts in Paris on February 28, 1814, but without indicating in which master's studio; his true mentor remaining his father, both from a technical point of view and for the inspiration of the subjects treated: horses, scenes of venery, stables… When in 1815 the father was called by Tsar Alexander I to lead the factory porcelain from St. Petersburg, the son accompanies him; however, this Russian stay, which lasted until 1820, was interrupted by frequent returns to Paris, as evidenced by our painting dated 1819 and executed in France, and another (representing a combat of oriental horsemen) of the same year. Note that these two paintings are signed "Ed. Swebach", thus avoiding any confusion with the father and a sign of an already asserted artistic personality, while later works will simply be signed "Swebach", ie to indicate a two-handed achievement. , or to maintain a certain ambiguity as to the author.
Bernard-Edouard, while in Russia he had already enjoyed an excellent reputation since 1820, became known to the French public on the occasion of his first participation in the Salon in 1822; he exhibited there, irregularly, several paintings until 1838.
He also had a fairly important activity as an engraver and lithographer: for example the Disagreements of hunting with hounds, a series of 12 plates published in Brussels in 1840, La chasse au cerf, another series of 12 plates, a series on the Revolution of July 1830 ...
Swebach owned a country residence in Aulnay where he regularly received friends. He ended his life in Versailles, dying at n ° 84, rue Royale, in the presence of his wife Jeanne-Julie d'Astier, whom he had married in 1850.
As we have mentioned, art historians or critics of the time (such as Augustin Jal) did not fail to emphasize the stylistic proximity to his father; yet Bernard-Edouard rather represents a mix between Carle Vernet and the English equestrian painters of the time, while his father is more a synthesis between a 17th century Dutch side (Wouwermans, Berchem ...) and contemporary artists like Demarne or Taunay.
In our painting there is even a romantic and somewhat fiery side that can be found in works from the same period by Géricault or Horace Vernet, and which will no longer necessarily be present in his later works.
Our painting illustrates the proximity of the young Swebach to the royal power; this will for example be confirmed by the painting of the Salon of 1824, which represents a horse race where the royal prize is awarded by Louis XVIII.
The subject is therefore that of a squire of the King's House controlling Louis XVIII's own horse, as indicated by the handwritten inscription on the frame, the scene probably taking place in Versailles, in view of the landscape, and not in the Parisian stables of the King, place du Carrousel.
The school of Versailles, made up of the Grande and the Petite Ecurie, had closed in 1810 and was reopened in 1814 by the Grand Ecuyer of France, the Viscount of Abzac (1744-1827). Beyond teaching horsemanship to the military nobility, the Stables housed the King's war and hunting horses, which were trained and ridden there.
The squire represented here is most likely the young Antoine Cartier, Vicomte d´Aure (1799, Toulouse - 1863, Saint-Cloud). A former pupil of the Prytanee of La Flèche, then a graduate in 1815 of the military school of Saint-Cyr, Aure joined the King's bodyguards in Versailles in 1816, then followed an instructional course at the Grande Ecurie. He was appointed a pupil squire by d'Abzac in 1817. At the time of our painting, he was already the cavalcadour squire of Louis XVIII, that is to say that he was in charge (choice, training, exercise) of the stable of horses serving as the King. Close to Louis XVIII, who appreciated his social ease and his salient spirit, Aure gave riding lessons, among others, to Charles X, the Duke of Angoulême and the Duchess of Berry, then to the sons of Louis-Philippe.
On the final closure of the Versailles school in
Price : on request