FR   EN   中文

Pair of monumental portraits of two Charleston notables
Pair of monumental portraits of two Charleston notables - Paintings & Drawings Style Pair of monumental portraits of two Charleston notables -
Ref : 99009
24 000 €
Period :
19th century
Provenance :
Dimensions :
L. 44.88 inch X l. 34.65 inch
Paintings & Drawings  - Pair of monumental portraits of two Charleston notables 19th century - Pair of monumental portraits of two Charleston notables
Pingel Rare Books

books, maps, paintings & drawings

+33 (0) 6 50 93 85 83
Pair of monumental portraits of two Charleston notables

Two oil on canvas in their original frames. 114 x 188 cm Original canvases with dealer's mark on the reverse of the portrait of Peter Drege (illus. 01): "Vallé & Bourniche / Only pupils and Suc. De / Belot / Rue de l'Arbre Sec n° 3 "[1].

Signature on the lower right of the portrait of Peter Drege: "Dubufe".

Provenance: remained in the family of the models by descent.

Bibliography: unpublished.

Founding member of an illustrious dynasty of artists, Claude Marie Dubufe led a brilliant career as a portrait painter. Initially destined to work in the world of diplomacy, he nevertheless preferred to follow his tastes by practicing painting. Family tradition has it that Jacques-Louis David, whose studio he attended, came to his father to convince him of his son's talent when the young man was about to embark for America. Regularly exhibiting at the Salon, Claude Marie Dubufe enjoyed notable success and was awarded many prestigious commissions. Decorated with the order of the Legion of Honor (1837), he was one of the official portraitists of the upper middle class as well as the nobility of the 19th century.

He painted the effigy of the actress Harriet Smithson, wife of Hector Berlioz (illus. 02), but also of Peter Drege and his wife, Margaret Félicite Colzy. The latter is the daughter of Louis Charlemagne Colzy, known as "Charles". Born in Lyon in 1770, he first settled in Saint-Domingue. In 1791, when the Haitian Revolution broke out, he fled the island to settle in Charleston. Having married Angelique Guerin, the couple gave birth to seven children. Charles worked as a tailor and died in June 1819. He was buried in Saint Mary of the Annunciation Cemetery in Charleston. It was in this same city that Margaret Felicite Colzy married Peter Drege on February 7, 1816, in a ceremony conducted by the Reverend Mr. Duclos Riviere. Like his father-in-law, Peter Drege was also a tailor. He was the director of the textile firm "Firm of Peter Drege & Co", located at 139 E. Bay St. in Charleston[2]. The entrepreneur is also referenced in the 1825-1827 edition of Longworth's American almanack, New-York register, and city directory, which indicates that he owns a store at 33 South h. 18 walker[3].

A careful study of the press of the time allows us to know more about these different activities. Peter Drege published numerous advertisements in the Columbian museum and Savannah daily gazette[4]. An article published in The Daily Georgian of January 13, 1821, brings a lot of information about his business: "New Store and New Goods. PETER DREGE, MOST respectfully informs his friends and the public in general, that he has just arrived from Charleston with a great quantity of extra superfine Gentlemen's HATS, and the most fashionable made Clothing. The above Goods are just received by the latest arrivals from London, Liverpool and Philadelphia. Peter Dregee flatters himself that his friends and the public will be pleased with the prices and the quality of his Goods, and that he shall endeavor to satisfy those who will honor him with their Custom."[5]

Visibly well integrated into the social fabric of South Carolina, Peter Drege also signed a petition on December 11, 1838, for "The establishment of a port of entry and the erection of a light-house at Indian Key."[6] Despite their establishment on American soil, the Drege and Colzy families maintained strong ties to France and returned home regularly. Peter Drege was a passenger on the liner "Ville-de-Lyon" bound for New York in May 1842[7]. He is also mentioned as arriving from Le Havre in the Morning Herald of September 7, 1840[8]. The couple portrayed by Claude Marie Dubufe gave birth to a daughter, Marie-Catherine-Paméla Drege [9]. 9] She married Marie-Joseph-Anatole de Sevin and seems to have lived mainly in Toulouse where she died on August 8, 1902.

The choice of the two models to solicit Claude Marie Dubufe is based on several criteria. First, the artist was one of the most prominent portrait painters of his time. As a French citizen, he also linked the couple to their origins. This decision is undoubtedly also a strategic and rewarding choice, it allows them to show a real connection with the Parisian art scene and to attest to their good taste. The trajectory of two of the painter's works, Adam and Eve and Paradise Lost[11] (illus. 03-04), was undoubtedly a determining factor in this choice. Exhibited at the Salon in 1827, the paintings were shown in London in 1829 and acquired three years later by the Brette brothers. The two paintings then enjoyed a major American exhibition tour between 1832 and 1838. In addition to New York and Boston, the works were shown at the Academy of Fine Arts in Charleston, from January 27 to March 5, 1834, and then in Augusta and Savannah, from March 14 to April 9 of the same year. 12] This American tour seems to have been successful and to have left a lasting impression, as shown by the replicas of the works exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York and in Worcester (Mass.) in 1849. These two portraits of the Drege couple attest to the strength of Franco-American ties, and are also a vivid testimony to life in South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Claude Marie Dubufe has captured the essence of these two models with a skillful and alert hand. This pair of paintings resonates perfectly with a review of the painter's work that appeared in the Annuaire des Artistes for the year 1834. This text specifies in particular that: "Mr Dubufe applies himself to deserve the success he has obtained; he makes charming portraits of ladies and his portraits of men do not yield to them in anything; often it is true, his women's heads have a family air but his poses besides being graceful have the merit of having an abandonment, a suppleness, a carelessness which is rare among portraitists"[14].

[1] A Portrait of the Countess of Cholier de Cibeins, also in the artist's hand, was also done on a canvas by Vallé & Bourniche, Cf. Claude Marie Dubuffe, Portrait of the Countess of Cholier de Cibeins, 19th century, oil on canvas, 130 x 98 cm, Paris, Millon sale of December 13, 2013, lot n° 60. The terminus ante quem of our two portraits corresponds to the end of the collaboration between Vallé & Bourniche in 1841, as the dealer's mark on the back of the canvas could not be affixed after that date.
[2] James W. Hagy (ed.), Directories for the city of Charleston, South Carolina, Baltimore, Clearfield, 1997, p. 104.
[3] Longworth's American almanack, New-York register, and city directory, 1825-1826, p. 160.
[4] See especially the December 10, 1817 edition, p. 3.
[5] The Daily Georgian, Saturday 13 January 1821, n° 39,
[6] Public documents printed by order of the senate of the United States, third session of the twenty-fifth congress, begun and held at the city of Washington, december 3, 1838, volume II, 1839, p. 54.
[7] Le Commerce, May 21, 1842, p. 6.
[8] Morning Herald, September 7, 1840, p. 3.
[9] See Madame de Naurois, Généalogie de la famille de Sevin, Paris, H. Champion, 1912, 112 p.
[10] Op. cit. p. 23.
[11] Claude-Marie Dubufe, "Adam and Eve" and "Paradise Lost", Nantes, Musée des beaux-arts de Nantes, 27 March 2009 - 10 May 2009. Curator: Cyrille Sciama, Nantes, musée des beaux-arts de Nantes, 2009, 32 p.
[12] The Drege couple may have seen the exhibition on one of these two occasions.
[13] See .
[14] Quoted in Portraits of a Century of Parisian Elegance: Claude, Édouard and Guillaume Dubufe, Paris, Mairie du 9e arrondissement and Mairie du 16e arrondissement, 1988.

Curator: Emmanuel Bréon, Paris, Délégation à l'action artistique de la Ville de Paris, 1988, p. 107.

Pingel Rare Books


19th Century Oil Painting