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Lot n° 42

Antoine-Jean GROS known as the...

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Antoine-Jean GROS known as the baron GROS (Paris, 1771 - Meudon, 1835) Charlemagne and Hildegarde, sketch for the dome of the Pantheon Original canvas. Height : 128,5 128,5 - Width : 128 cm Provenance : Sale after the artist's death, Paris, November 23 - 27, 1835 (Me Bonnefons), n°18 (105 fr) ; Probably acquired by Etienne François Haro, Paris (his mark is on the reverse of the canvas) Bibliography: Jean-Baptiste Delestre, Gros, sa vie ses ouvrages, second edition, Jules Renouard Libraire, 1867, p.251 (mentions that the painting was folded in four); J.Tripier- Lefranc, Histoire de la vie et de la mort du baron Gros, le grand peintre, 1880, p.675 (Charlemagne et Hildegarde; large study). Expert : Cabinet Turquin, Mr Stéphane Pinta. In 1806, a decree of Napoleon re-established the Catholic worship in the Pantheon, which was renamed Sainte-Geneviève church. The Minister of the Interior, Jean-Pierre Bachasson de Montalivet, commissioned Antoine-Jean Gros to decorate the dome in 1811 (in fact, it is three domes nested in each other, the painted part is located on the intermediate one). The first project, preserved in the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris, depicts the Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve receiving the tributes of Clovis, Charlemagne, Saint Louis and Napoleon I, each with his wife. They evoke the dynasties that ruled France: the Merovingians, the Carolingians, the Capetians and the Bonapartes. Napoleon was accompanied by the Empress Marie-Louise and her son the King of Rome, but when he fell, the couple was replaced by Louis XVIII with his niece, the Duchess of Angouleme. The completion of this last group was complicated and delayed due to the successive changes of regime. The dome was finally unveiled in November 1824 before Charles X who climbed the scaffolding. On this occasion, he awarded Gros the title of baron and 50,000 francs. In the sale of his studio in 1835, our painting was sold as a lot with another sketch for the group of Clovis and Clotilde; this one was acquired by the Musée du Petit Palais in 1986. Other studies are also listed for the face of Charlemagne (Christie's Monaco sale, December 2, 1989). Tripier-Lefranc (op. cit.) notes the existence of other studies for the figure, including three full-length and two head studies of different sizes, of which ours is the largest. The figure of Charlemagne has been modified in the final composition from our sketch, and turned the other way. Forgoing the Davidian rubbing, Antoine-Jean Gros adopts a broad brushstroke with, in places, impasto effects such as the touches of light on the globe and the sword. The ample gesture of the monarch derives from the figures of God in the Sistine Chapel, giving it a great monumentality. The composition is strong, around an X formed by the arms on one side and the line that goes from Hildegard's bent head to the sword, tempered by the undulations of the great red coat embroidered with gold. The colors are frank and vivid, announcing the strident chords of romanticism. Charlemagne is depicted in middle age with his famous beard, here brown, and not white as is often the case in his iconography. Gros was inspired by the regalia exhibited at the "Museum" in the Louvre, including the scepter of Charles V, representing Charlemagne holding the globe, which was used by Napoleon I during the coronation (see Napoleon I on the Imperial Throne by Ingres, 1806, Paris, Musée de l'Armée). He uses the same form of crown, discarding the one of the sovereigns of the Holy Roman Empire kept in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna. On his belt hangs "Joyeuse", the sword of the coronation of the kings of France (kept in the Louvre), whose painter indicates the decoration of crossbones on the pommel. He also tries to get closer to an archaeological reality thanks to the jewelry worn by the monarchs. The gold and garnet fibulae holding their coats are reminiscent of Merovingian models close to the jewelry found in the tombs of Childeric I (BNF). The complete file of the Cabinet Turquin to discover on farran-encheres.com

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