Mohamed Dekkak with Painting of Paul Delaroche Paris France

James-Alexandre de Pourtalès (1776-1855)

James-Alexandre de Pourtalès (1776-1855)
James-Alexandre de Pourtalès (1776-1855)


James-Alexandre de Pourtalès





James-Alexandre de Pourtalès, known as Pourtalès-Gorgier, born November 28, 1776 in Neuchâtel and died March 24, 1855 in Paris, is a banker, diplomat and collector of Swiss art.

Coming from a large family of Protestant financiers, James-Alexandre de Pourtalès is the son of Jacques Louis de Pourtalès (1722-1814), a banker in Naples, and the countess born Rose Augustine Marie de Luze (1751-1791). He married on June 12, 1809 in Neuchâtel Anne Henriette Falconnet of Palézieux (1792-1836).

Purchaser in 1813 of the seigniory of Gorgier, James-Alexandre de Pourtalès is created count and named chamberlain by a rescript of Frederick William III of Prussia of November 30, 1814. It was he who freed the Bérochaux carts of charroi in 1822 and received as a sign recognition a bench to his coat of arms (removed in 1848) to the church. In addition, the commune of Gorgier granted him the middle class of honor. Member of the General Audiences (1816-1829), he settled in Paris in 1815. In his mansion, built in 1838-1839 by Felix Duban Street Tronchet, it brings together one of the most important collections of antiquities and paintings (including Bronzino, Rembrandt and Ingres) of his time, dispersed at auction by his children in 1865 according to his will. In 1806, he acquired the Château de Bandeville in Saint-Cyr-sous-Dourdan (Essonne), whose landscaped park was remodeled in 1833 by the landscape architect Louis-Sulpice Varé, of which he was the owner. one of the first known works. In 1809, James Alexander acquired for 150,000 Swiss francs the castle of Luins.

1846 – Half-size portrait of Count de Pourtalès by Paul Delaroche. This painting was photographed in 1858 by Robert Jefferson Bingham to illustrate the work of the painter, plate 47, preserved at the National Library of France.

Painter Paul Delaroche, 1797- 1856, Paris

Born in the Louvre into a family already illustrious in painting, Horace Vernet was perhaps the most popular painter of his time. Friend of the soldiers with whom he bivouacked, he had all his life the esteem of the greatest. Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon I, Charles X, Louis Philippe and his family, Tzar Nicolas I, Napoleon III ordered their portraits. The king of Prussia has twice called him to him, and he is not until the Pasha of Egypt, who does not bring him to Syria to paint the Battle of Nezib in 1839.

These numerous travels across Europe and Africa have scattered an abundant work very early on. An entire room, the gallery of Constantine in the castle of Versailles was reserved to him by Louis Philippe to paint the campaign of Africa.

The author of our painting, Paul Delaroche himself was very early member of the Institute, in 1832, at age 35, thanks to a rapid and impressive success as a painter of history. He is also a remarkable portraitist. His portraits according to Charles Blanc “would be enough to establish his titles at the master’s degree, because all those who studied painting know that nothing is more difficult than a portrait, and that it is the touchstone of great artists. Gifted himself with a strong personality, Delaroche was made to understand that of others.

Also, not one of his portraits that does not betray a temperament, which reveals a soul. Sometimes wanting to express the proud stiffness of a minister for whom the forum was a professor’s chair, he uses contours felt he is a sure-fire man, precise to the point of drought, sometimes he adopts a soft, past and buttery touch, as if to respond to the ideas of gentleness and good humor inspired by the patriarch of Polish immigration. But always his character is all of a piece; he is painted as he is conceived, he is one. ”

In addition to an obvious quality whose absence would be difficult to explain, our painting has the exceptional character of representing a great painter filled with glory and consideration, by another member of the painting ghota. When he painted our painting in 1846, the fame of Paul Delaroche is immense, and has long since passed the European frontiers; he is a member of the academies of Milan, Vienna, St Luke in Rome, Amsterdam, St Petersburg, Naples, Belgium, Scotland and the fine arts of Prussia. The esteem of the two men is reciprocal and the admiration for the elder has gradually turned into a fraternal friendship, with a note of deference likely, due by a respectful son-in-law. Because It is also a family portrait. Eleven years earlier, January 28, 1835, Paul Delaroche married Louise Vernet, only daughter of Horace. In 1846, the two men had just suffered the same atrocious loss: Louise died on December 18, 1845; the ceremony was held on December 22 at Notre Dame de Lorette church in the presence of more than four thousand people.Paul Delaroche will never recover and the other portrait, opposite, in pencil and sanguine that he makes of Horace in 1846 is far from that of the conqueror bon vivant and willingly facecious to whom everything has always succeeded. The gaze always reflects the prontitude of observation and the lucidism which makes it possible to dominate the obstacles; but it is also borrowed from a deep sadness, perhaps to the limit of despair.Our painting is posterior of several months, since we see appear a beard with the chin still modest by its importance, comparable to the “royal” in the fashion under Louis XIII, and which announces “the imperial” or other “goatee” that he will keep until the end of his life; we are close to the second empire. This is also the time for portraits in black clothes, emanating from a new clientele made necessary by the narrowing of the large painting market; victim to the faith of a constitutional monarchy becoming economical and impoverishment, in every sense of the term, of religious production. Vanity is obviously not the slightest excuse for being portrayed for many enriched bourgeois. Although emerging from the same background, artists whose romanticism and culture willingly accommodated a more aristocratic patronage, tend to despise them.Although Delaroche has the happiness, or the intention, of painting only the most eminent politicians like Guizot, Salvandy, Remuzat or Thiers, the richest bankers like Mallet, Delessert, Hottinguer, Pourtalès-Georgier, the most powerful industrialists like Aubé, Schneider or Péreire.For this reason, no doubt, and despite its uncompromising accuracy supported by irreproachable technique, none of these portraits approaches the vulgarity or fierce caricature of Bertin the Elder. If it had been necessary, moreover, to create the exact antithesis of the rapacious flask which excited Baudelaire so much, our Horace Vernet could agree. Paul Delaroche, with perhaps his model, chose to represent the great artist, man of the world. The coat, a dark gray barely tinged with blue, can be seen at most. A subtle, dull monochrome translates a supple fabric, soft to the touch. More cuttlefish, the strict tie of a navy black is somehow content to continue the habit, without attracting otherwise attention by judiciously distributing the four white flashes of the table, the two more discreet emphasize the head.So that all the attention “sartorial” focuses on the refinement of the vest: result in as little space of a sublime management of tone-on-tone harmonies and oppositions, completed by the subtle reminders of the exact complementary ocher dark echoing the thin blue threads. The tie and the vest remain, moreover, the only singularities permitted in the uniform procession of the black clothes of time; sometimes a glove or the texture of a hat, but it is about accessories. The accessory whole is limited here to a discreet Rosette of the Legion of Honor and the stripes of the vest underlines the somewhat military rigor of a dazzling dandy romantic certe, but nevertheless capable of asceticism in his Bulimia of work. It is not surprising that the lighting focuses on the forehead of the great artist. The skeptical look, as well as the sobriety of the maintenance, express this ostentatious pride that gives the consciousness of an aristocratic superiority of the spirit. Before lodging at the Institute, Horace Vernet often received the elite of the Parisian society in the sumptuous villa he lived in Versaille. At the time of our painting he lives, as well as Paul Delaroche, rue de la Tour des Dames, in the heart of the district elegantly nicknamed “the new Athens”. It is necessary to imagine the quality of the turns of table representing a whole Olympian in black dress, of demi-gods of the art, poets, painters, musicians, actors, writers, reunited in the English coffee, the Riche coffee, or in the privately-owned hotels This area of the 9th arrondissement, still 160 years old, is surrounded by country corners and where for over half a century, it was almost all the other romantic celebrations of our history. Delaroche was barely 27 years old when he exhibited his Joan of Arc in the salon of 1824, which, in the words of Eugene de Mirecourt, immediately won him “one of the most famous artists of his time.” Follow the Death of Elizabeth in 1827, The Cardinal of Richelieu on the Rhone in 1829, The Children of Edward in 1830, Cromwell in 1831. In 1834, the Duke of Orleans, eldest son of King Louis-Philippe, is so satisfied with the Assassination of the Duke of Guise, that he spontaneously doubled the asking price. According to the Magasin Pittoresque of the same year, the Lady Jane Gray exhibited for six months at the Salon also arouses enthusiasm: “for many years, no work of art had yet achieved a success more popular than the Jeanne Gray” ( The Jane Gray and the Cromwell and the Hemicycle are commented on our html page Charles Baudelaire It was in June 1834 that Delaroche made his first trip to Italy, “to make his novitiate and reflect on the great examples of the past.” He stays in Florence, Pisa, Arezzo, Siena, and finally Rome where he is the host Horace Vernet then director of the Académie de France at Villa Medici. On his return from Rome, he resumed in 1835 the studio of his master Gros, whose suicide could be linked to the growing power and violence of criticism.Because of this, or the attitude of Thiers on the project of the Church of the Madeleine, or both, it distances itself from the Salon. He refuses to participate in that of 1836. The salon of 1837 will be the last for him. The semicircle of the School of Fine Arts, inaugurated in 1841 will remain the last public manifestation of his talent, after which he will abandon the great historical compositions. His reputation is made. His paintings are intended for an elite, preserved in the collections of royal families, the richest aristocrats, or bankers; no doubt it is in the middle of the nineteenth century the most famous and most appreciated painter of the western world. Louis Philippe entrusted him in 1838 with a commission of five paintings for the king’s pavilion at Versailles. The big business bourgeoisie is not left out. A prestigious Swiss collector, the Count of Pourtales-Georgier bought Cardinal Mazarin and Cardinal de Richelieu in 1831.Prince Alexander Demidoff is another glitzy amateur. Married to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, Demidoff is the owner of the Temptation of St Anthony and later, in 1865, Lady Jane Gray; he is a sponsor and influential friend in Eastern Europe. Two important paintings leave in Central Europe: The Pilgrims of Rome thanks to Anasthasius Raczinsky, member of one of the largest families of the Polish aristocracy – the original version of the Napoleon in Fontainebleau is by another bought by the banker Heinrich Schletter. The painting will take a prominent place in 1858 in the background of the new Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig. Thomas Baring is another amateur financier of Delaroche, the British one. Queen Victoria, perhaps influenced by the Orleans family also appreciates Delaroche. She buys him at least three paintings and afterwards will remain faithful to him, as well as other members of the British aristocracy, as the Dowager Countess of Sandwich, the Duke of Sutherland and his brother, future tale of Elesmere . The fourth Marquis of Hertford, who lived more readily in France between his hotel in the Rue Laffitte and the Château de Bagatelle bought at Louis Philippe in 1835, occupies a special place. He bought no less than twelve paintings, some of which came later from the Auction of Count Pourtàles in 1865, including the Richelieu on the Rhone and Cardinal Mazarin. This ensemble is today the most important gathering of Delaroche’s works. It was the subject of a recent study by Stephen Duffy, published in 1997: “Paul Delaroche, Paintings in the Wallace Collection”. The Anglo-Saxon researchers seem more interested in extracting Delaroche from the deep oblivion in which he was buried for more than a century. This phenomenon resulted from profound changes, both of taste and of sponsors. Emerging in France less than two decades after the disappearance of Delaroche, a new colorful range appears, freed from secular references to nature. The drawing, the anatomy, the perspective, the model become accessory, even academic and binding. It is not so much for the painter, to represent, but to “translate”. The simultaneous appearance in France of the first paintings dealers accredits this “modern” painting and manages to impose it on the Atlantic, where wealth is concentrated at the dawn of the twentieth century. century. Against all odds, this rupture, which was initially considered extravagant, to the point of being originally a crime, became the custom and suddenly, the last heirs of six centuries of evolution of European painting opportunely made figures. mold for merchants being broken), dinosaurs, pastists, academics, archaic or other retarded hijackers, guilty of not having known to see or understand the evolution of art etc. Another equally French paradox was more specifically prejudicial to Delaroche and Vernet who were his Turkish (x) heads. This is Baudelaire’s posthumous “sacralisation” with the extension that results from systematic eruptions and other divagations on art, including the distance between art, truth and morality, of which France is true is happening consistently; renewing since and until the nausea, the acclamations of September 30, 1938 … (commentary of April 2003).In addition to Stephen Duffy’s monograph, two other fundamental studies were recently devoted to Delaroche besides Channel: Norma Ziff’s thesis in 1977, and in 1997, the important work of Stephen Bann, professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury.Finally, a first pavé of nearly 340 pages in French appears in 1999, editions of the National Museums in collaboration with the cities of Nantes and Montpellier.

We know the gradual impoverishment of religious painting begun at the end of the 17th century. The brush at the origin, guided by the fervor passes between warmer hands, the communion moves away in proportion, one can not transmit what is foreign to you, and if it allows sometimes to reach the sublime, the Religious art more than another is inseparable from sincerity. Also the lack of breath is it a constant production of the nineteenth, contained in essence in repetitions, but which become insipid, in that they no longer overcome the pitfall of a sentimentality cutesy, disturbing, cleaner to to disconcert that to convert the last undecided.

The last paintings of Delaroche, which nearly disappeared with him memories, would be enough to buy this sinking. The credit goes to Stephen Bann for us to rediscover them and we greet the attention of Ladies German-Cosneau and Isabelle Julia who conclude their work by reconstructing what Charles Blanc described as a testament of the painter. These little paintings forever scattered, we arrive together and coherence and emotion restored thanks to the book and the magic of a photogravure of high quality.

Mrs Isabelle Julia to find the testimonies and comments of the time: by Barbey d’Aurevilly, Louis Ulbach and Charles Blanc on which it would be presumptuous to add. “One can not describe in words this scene of mourning, or the painter so strongly expressed, and with so much soul all the variants of the pain, the desolation of the holy women, the deep, but male and contained affliction, of Saint Peter, the tender despair of St. John, and the unbridled anguish of the Virgin, who, standing on her knees, gazes past the executioners.with infinite delicacy, the painter has made the virginal character of the motherhood of Mary, and I do not know what shade of respect for this son who is a God … The Return of Golgotha, The Crown of Thorns are still pieces of an unexpected beauty, of a lugubrious and penetrating poetry.This was the testament of the master “. This is a short excerpt from Charles Blanc’s tribute to the paintings that Delaroche painted in the last year of his life.To satisfy himself – according to Eugene de Mirecour – “freed from all the weight of traditions ordinarily imposed on those who treat such a subject (…) Delaroche designed to make a series of compositions on the death of Christ, but considered a new point of view, as if he had himself witnessed the tragedy.So he painted in small dimensions Jesus in the Garden of Olives, and The Burial of Christ. Then he represented the holy women on their knees in a dark room. At their head, the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. They see through a window the pikes of the soldiers who lead the Man-God to the torture. In this deeply sad scene, the real pain is expressed with such sincerity that the soul, filled with this spectacle, asks the painter nothing more. Continuing this terrible work, the artist painted the Virgin returned to her room and considering with unspeakable pain the thorn crown dyed with the precious blood of her son. At last he was working on the last act of this dreary tragedy, The Fading of the Virgin Surrounded by the Apostles and the Holy Women when Death Suddenly Struck Her “.

The Saint Veronica is painted very early, also dated 1856. It is possible that Delaroche with it, wanted to recall the vanity of the stylistic evolutions undertaken since the middle of the fifteenth century. century.The subtleties for most of the oil painting were acquired, the anatomy and perspective mastered; a marvelous way of expressing reached maturity, and some quattrocento artists were technically able to reach the truth. The rest is a matter of heart, and faith, the canvas a convenience to come and Delaroche has exceptionally used a wooden panel, installing for perhaps pasticher Mantégna, Saint Véronique in a shortened scholar, built with the touch dry and meticulous of this master. The tone of the set and the opposition of a brushed background in large dark footprints dispel the ambiguity. But the message remains, of simple, intangible truths. Art for art, artifice, evolution itself is a farce, without the simple, but how much necessary possession of the craft. This manifesto may have deserved more echoes, at a time or is looming around, according to Barbey d’Aurevilly: “the sieves of the sun on the canvas and limiters of outlines, the material rage of the color which is the whole painting for vermilion drinkers.”

Only certainty, religious painting will never be rescued. But let us conclude, on the personality of the painter, the last words to Charles Blanc: “So, whether one examines one’s life or work, one always comes back to admire, in Paul Delaroche, a character, yes, a character, and this is rather rare nowadays, among artists as elsewhere, so that we take care.Reserved until the appearance of coldness, Delaroche was a generous and devoted man, an excellent friend, full of righteousness, disinterestedness and greatness of soul. Better than anyone, perhaps, we were able to know what he did, in 1848, to help his comrades. He then took for the others the role of solicitor, whom he was incapable of taking for himself, and resolved, besides, not to accept any work, in spite of the sudden withering away of his fortune, of which he did not speak. He wrote to the director of the Beaux Arts, on the distress of some of his pupils, letters filled with the eloquence of the heart, and which would throw a beautiful light on his biography.


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