EDOUARD HENRI GIRARDET (SWISS, 1819-1880)
THE DEPARTURE (1874)
Oil on canvas | Monogrammed "18 EG 74" lower right
Item # 106YTP17E
A dramatic and sweeping scene of the Riviera Brenta in Venice, Italy, it captures a scene of Aristocratic visitors leaving their vacation along the winding canals to return home. Three covered gondolas have docked beside the stone steps leading down into the canal, the first with a plank laid out for the young boy at the forefront to step into the boat. The gondolier greets him while also standing at the right rear corner of the vessel to counterbalance the passengers as they board. The larger covered gondola is titled along the helm "BRENTA" and servants work busily in the background to load the family's luggage onto the top.
The work is signed in monogram with an intertwined cursive "G" inside which is a capital "E" flanked by the date of 1874 just beneath the window of the first gondola. The nearly monumental work measures just over 70" wide in what appears to be the painting's first frame, a brilliant understated frame with a gadrooned and gilded inner border before a gilt-highlighted lattice-work design over ebony ground with incised designs surrounded by a simple gilded and molded outer border.
Edouard Henri Girardet was born on July 31st of 1819 as the second son of Charles Samuel Girardet (Swiss, 1780-1863) and brother of Karl (1813-1871) and Paul (1821-1893). The family moved to Paris in 1822 and Edouard Henri began his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris at a very early age while also training as a painter under his brother Karl. In 1836 at the age 17 he started work as a draughtsman for Jacques-Dominique-Charles Gavard's Les Galeries historiques de Versailles (The Galleries of Versailles), marking the start of a collaboration that continued until 1848.
In 1839 he traveled to Switzerland and painted scenes the Swiss countryside and rural genre compositions. He made his début at the Paris Salon the same year and continued to exhibit his works there - both paintings and engravings - until 1876. In 1842 he traveled to Egypt with his brother Karl to paint a historical scene from the Crusades which had been commissioned by the museum at Versailles, also executing a number of Eastern landscapes paintings and genre studies; the same year he was awarded a third-class medal at the Paris Salon.
He moved to Brienz after returning from Egypt and was married in 1845, eventually having four sons: Henri, Pierre, Robert and Max, all of whom became painters and engravers. In 1847 and again in 1849 he secured second-class medals at the Salon exhibition and starting in 1855 he began envraving plates for the French art dealer and publisher Adlophe Goupil; this became an important part of his revenue and means of supporting his ever-growing family. In 1857 he returned to Paris where he decided to devote himself to copperplate engraving and during this period he reproduced many famous paintings, including works by Gérome, Gleyre, Fortuny, Zamacoïs, Rosni and Faure - while most of his exhibitions were domestic, he exhibited one such engraving in London at the Royal Academy in 1879.
Edouard achieved the ultimate recognition of a first-class medal in 1861. He received another first-class medal in 1863 and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1866. He left Paris briefly, returning to Brienz in 1870 and remained there for the duration of the Franco-Prussian War before returning to Paris. He died on March 5th of 1880 in Versailles, France.
Museum Holdings of Selected Works:
- BASEL: Young Girls Visiting a Palm-Reader; After the Battle; At a Barber's in Brittany; Snowball Fight
- BERN: Going Back to School; Almsgiving; Declaration of Love; Family of Lions in the Sahara
- GENEVA: Interior of a Berlin Kitchen
- NEUCHÂTEL: The Father's Blessing; The Interrupted Meal; Motherly Love; Revelations; Departure of Bernese Landsturm; Portrait of Charles Girardet; The Wetterhorn; Marriage Proposal; Goat; El Kantara (Effect of the Storm); The Young Artist
- VERSAILLES: The Capture of Jaffa
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. VI, Gründ, 2006, p. 264
Measurements: 31" H x 63 1/8" W [canvas]; 38 7/8" H x 70 3/8" W [frame]
Very fine original condition, professionally cleaned and conserved with new Damar varnish applied; linen-wax lining; original stretchers with a few replaced keys; early ebonized and parcel gilt frame, likely the first frame for the work; under UV examination some flaring varnish without any observed restoration in figures faces, speck touch up to leftmost figure's cheek, light inpainting to bottom of red robe, inpainted loss in central upper sky and a few dots to the left of that and into the branch. Vibrant clean surface with very slight overall craquelure. A fine presentation, ready to place.