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Charles Emile Jacque (French, 1813-1894)

An artist that achieved commercial success during his lifetime both as an engraver and as a painter of animals, Charles Emilé Jacque was a true Barbizon painter.  A distinct departure from the more academic Romantic work of most animal painters during his day, Charles painted his sheep with total realism of circumstance: chaotic flocks in rustic barns, sheep scattered amongst stark and bleary landscapes.  These were complex compositions that sought to capture the true nature of the animals with true interactions and accurate living situations.  His landscapes have a translucent tonal quality about them and are treated with no less energy than the animal subjects residing within them. 

Jacque’s fascination with sheep is nearly matched by his interest in fowl, of which he showed considerable interest in documenting not only anatomically but sociologically - the subject so intrigued him that he captured these observations of personality and gesture in a self-illustrated book in 1889, “Domestic Fowl”.  His body of work is prolific and he was quickly recognized as an influential figure in the Barbizon movement, spending a great deal of time in Fontainbleu where arguably his best work was produced.  He was honored with the Legion d’Honneur in 1867 and showed at the Paris Salon from 1845-1869 and in 1889.  He was awarded as an engraver with third-class in 1851, two rappels in 1861 and 1863, a second-class medal in 1867 and a major prize in 1889.  As a painter he achieved a third-class medal in 1861, a second-class medal in 1864 and gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889.  

Most of his works are signed in a simple script "Ch. Jacque"

Literature:

  • Popular 19th Century Painting: A Dictionary of European Genre Painters, Hook & Poltimore, 1986, p. 237, 241, 257 (one of Jacque's works illustrated)
  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists Vol. VII, 2006, Gründ, p. 677-679