The Flandrin brothers are three: Auguste (1804-1842), Hippolyte (1809-1864) and Paul (1811-1902). They are Lyonnais and painters. Their parents live near the Saint-Pierre Palace, now the Museum of Fine Arts, where their exhibition is held today. It is in these places that as children, they develop a taste for art and want to devote themselves to it, despite the reluctance of their mother, who is worried to see them take a path known to lead to misery.

His prognosis will be denied and two of the three Flandrin will have prosperous careers, the eldest having died young. He was the first to enroll in the school of fine arts in their hometown in 1817, barely a teenager, followed by Hippolyte in 1826 and Paul in 1827. The two youngest came to Paris in 1829 and met again, less by project than to follow the advice of another Lyonnais, Joseph Guichard, in Ingres’s workshop. They become fanatics. In 1832, after two failures in previous years, Hippolyte won the Prix de Rome and five years at the Villa Medici.

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The winning work – Ingres having played an essential role with the jury – deals with a mythological subject, Theseus recognized by his father. Under a portico, with the Acropolis of Athens in the background, men and women in togas watch the hero, who, we do not know why, has neglected to dress. As it is in the center and from the front, in order to avoid any obscenity, the painter has placed lamb chops on the table as a thong, an original solution.

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The criticism of time does not mention this detail, but judges without amenity the color and the lack of verisimilitude of the attitudes. Ingres’ opponents accuse Flandrin of plagiarizing his teacher and of being the champion of his coterie. Hippolyte answers, all in nuances: ” Our fight is the fight of good and evil, these two principles will never be reconciled. “ Until the end, he did not compromise on it and Paul neither.

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Studies of female and male nudes, religious scenes, portraits: they remain faithful to their master who can be judged admirable or blind. the Jesus Christ and the little children (1836-1838) of Hippolyte as much as his Young naked man sitting on a rock by the sea (1835-1836) or, later, his ladies of the good society seated in their armchairs owe their method and their fixity to Ingres.

Preparatory drawings, repeated until arriving at plastic formulations considered as perfect, precede the integration of these in a composition no less meditated on paper which is then executed meticulously in oil on canvas. Hippolyte or Paul? Paul or Hippolyte? It would often be difficult to say without the cartels. Less numerous because of his early death, the works of Augustus fall under the same authority.

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