A Pastoral Landscape of Horses Drinking
Oil on canvas | Signed lower right "Jules Dupre", numbered verso with ink stamp "28288" | circa 1840s
Item # 111EJT27Z
A fine example of Dupré's work from the 1840s from the period while he was still operating under the distinct influence of John Constable, the spacial orientation is roughly divided into thirds with grassy pasture on either side flanking a body of water in the center. The rustic nature of the scene is highlighted by the young farmer sitting on the bank in an apparent state of daydreaming, his head resting on his arm while loosely watching the cattle as the graze on the opposite bank under the shade of the trees. The development of the trees is spectacular and almost portrait-like with very careful articulation of the foliage, leaves and individual branches. A brilliant high-chroma palette with a full spectrum of greens is mostly dark in this quiet hollow, the lower half of the scene juxtaposed against the vivid blues of the sky.
The work is signed lower right. It is housed attractively in an early giltwood mirror.
Academic notes: This particular landscape composition is one Jules Dupré revisited frequently in his work, the scene arranged with a body of water coming down the center and spreading out into the foreground to form a V-shaped body flanked on either side by pasture while on the right bank a tree projecting thin tendrils of branches out over the water. The same overall arrangement was utilized more or less exactly in many of his paintings, including for example Paysage [Aubrun, 1974, fig. 128, circa 1835-40], Coucher de Soleil [Aubrun, 1974, fig. 287, circa 1860s], Pastorale [Aubrun, 1974, fig. 292, circa 1860s], L'Abreuvoir [Aubrun, 1974, fig. 301, circa 1860s], Paysage, ou encore Abres Dans [Aubrun, 1974, fig. 402, circa 1860s] and Coucher de Soleil Derrier [Aubrun, 1974, fig. 583, circa 1870s]. Notable is the central depiction of drinking horses, a treatment that is almost unique to the work of Dupré; a very similar study of a horse is depicted in Aubrun's supplementary text [Aubrun, 1982, cat. 59).
We would like to thank Michel Rodrigue for confirming the authenticity of this painting; his certificate of the authentication will be provided with the sale documents.
Born in Nantes, France on April 5th of 1811, his first practice as an artist came under the direction of his father, a manufacturer of porcelain in Parmain. He spent his youth painting in his free time, executing studies of the local landscapes and along the Oise. For the most part he was self-taught through his youth and he pursued the nature surrounding him in the numerous places he lived, including in Limoges where his father would be employed around 1827. He moved to Paris and worked in the porcelain factory of his uncle, Arsène Gillet while briefly studying landscape and animal painting more formally under Jean-Michel Diebolt.
His debut at the Paris Salon featured a number of landscape paintings in 1831 and he continued to exhibit there throughout the 1830s, winning a second-class medal in 1833. During the years that followed he developed an association and close friendships with the young circle of artists who would eventually be known as the Barbizon school. He sketched plein-air studies of the countryside surrounding Paris, as well as traveling throughout France to paint the scenery with both Constant Troyon and Théodore Rousseau. While in England painting landscapes in Southampton, he was introduced to the paintings of John Constable and was heavily influenced by his ability to convey motion and drama in nature. It was here that he painted his View of the Fields Near Southampton (1835), a painting received with great critical acclaim from his contemporaries in the Romantic school at its exhibition the same year.
Perhaps in sympathy with his close friend Rousseau's exclusion from the Salon during this period, he did not exhibit at the Salon throughout the 1840s. They became great friends and painted together extensively throughout this decade, even sharing a studio where they worked side by side for a time. Despite being introduced to the region of Fontainebleau by Rousseau, Dupré broke with his Barbizon contemporaries and did not make it a destination that features prominently in his work, preferring instead the varying countryside and groves along the Oise. The friendship would become impaired for a period around 1848 when Dupré was elected to be an officer of the Légion d'honneur.
Starting in 1852 Dupré stopped exhibiting at the Salon altogether, moving to L'Isle-Adam in the 1850s where the forest of Compiègne featuring prominently in his oeuvre starting around that time. He did send works for a special exhibition in Paris in 1860 and would begin exhibiting at the Salon again starting in 1867, achieving another second-class award. In 1865 he began to spend a great deal of his summer visiting the northern coast at Cayeux-sur-Mer; he fell in love with the vastly different scenery and continued to vacation here through 1870, painting a large number of seascapes and marine paintings during this period. He continued to exhibit at the Salon through 1883, but rarely left L'Isle-Adam in the last nine years of his life. He died on October 6th of 1889.
While Dupre's work was cherished and appreciated for its honesty and genius almost from his first debut at Salon, the staying power of his work is a testament to its quality. Throughout his life he received great renown and was highly sought-after, but perhaps only in hindsight are his important contributions to the Barbizon School and the influential role he had on the work of his contemporaries fully appreciated. Today he is widely regarded as one of the most important French landscapists of the late 19th century. The truth-seeking nature of his work, abandoning epic grandeur for the reality and complexity of nature with its chaos and poetic movements of wind through trees and storms on clouds set his studies apart from in the field of landscapists. With brilliant colors and an inordinately complex brushwork, his landscapes were an innovation and evocative of the hard edges of untouched nature.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- Jules Dupré, 1811-1889. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné, et gravé, Marie-Madeleine Aubrun, Paris, 1974
- Jules Dupré, 1811-1889. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné, et gravé, Supplement Marie-Madeleine Aubrun, Paris, 1982
Measurements: 15 7/8" H x 21 1/8" W [canvas]; 20 3/4" H x 26 3/8" W x 1 1/2" D [frame]
Condition Report: Professionally cleaned by our conservator and sealed with a traditional damar varnish. Original stretchers and keys. Ground stable with light craquelure throughout. Under UV examination, some flaring in the trees with some old inpainting and restoration of outer reaches of trees and foliage [presents slightly more blurry than the crisp articulation of foliage in the forefront of the trees]; lower right corner a bit hard to read due to varnish flare. Frame with gilt losses and cracking to the gesso. A very good presentation ready to place.