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Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson

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Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson

Estimated price: € 6.000 / 8.000
USD: 6.420 / 8.560 $GBP: 5.063 / 6.750 £
Starting price:  3.000
  • USD: 3.210 €
  • GBP: 2.531 €
  • USD: 3.210 $
  • GBP: 2.531 £
USD: 3.210 $GBP: 2.531 £

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Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
Montargis 1767 – 1824 Paris
Study sheet for the important painting:
Révolte du Caire, 21 Octobre 1798 (1810)
Charcoal and chalk on paper, mounted
43 x 50 cm, with cardboard 57 x 63.8 cm
Signed & dated 1809 lower left
Château du Versailles, MV 1497

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson was an important Neoclassical painter known for his meticulous attention to detail and his ability to convey dramatic emotion. He trained under the famous artist Jacques-Louis David and quickly gained recognition for his distinctive style, which combined classical ideals with a romantic flair. Girodet’s works often included historical and mythological themes, and he was celebrated for his technical skill and innovative compositions.

One of Girodet’s most important works is ‘Révolte du Caire, 21 October 1798’, an epic painting commemorating the French suppression of an uprising in Cairo during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign (Château du Versailles, MV 1497). More than ten years after this uprising, Girodet was commissioned by Napoleon to depict this episode. Bonaparte wanted to organise the country and, among other things, set up a council of local people to better distribute the land tax. However, this led to an uprising by the inhabitants of Cairo a few months later. The French therefore armed themselves and marched against the rebels. Shown here is the moment in the midst of the tumultuous battle when the French, who had entered the Al-Azhar Mosque, clashed with the rebels. Several hundred French soldiers and several thousand Egyptians lost their lives in this battle.

A preparatory study for this monumental work, executed in charcoal and chalk on paper and signed and dated 1809 (one year before the completion of the larger work in 1810), focuses on two of the central figures of this larger composition and captures a moment of intense drama and action. It shows the Moorish slave-servant, a dark-skinned, naked male figure, in a dynamic, diagonal pose, his right hand raised and brandishing a curved sabre in a defensive gesture. The man appears powerful and determined, his muscular body exposed as another figure grabs his coat. His wide eyes and focussed expression convey a sense of urgency and alertness as he looks to his left, where an unknown figure poses a threat. With his left arm, the man holds the unconscious figure of the wounded Mamluk-Bey, an elite member of the Egyptian military class, dressed in luxurious clothes with fur, turban and dagger. The posture and clothing of the unconscious man stand in stark contrast to the attentive and defensive stance of his rescuer and emphasise the tension and chaos of the moment, accentuated by the pyramidal staging of the group of figures.

In the original painting, this central group of figures is positioned on the far right, with a French hussar rushing towards them with a sword, further emphasising the scene’s overall impression of conflict and urgency. Girodet’s preparatory study not only demonstrates his ability to capture human anatomy and emotion, but also provides captivating insights into his meticulous process of planning and composing his larger works. It is known that Girodet was fascinated by costume studies and made numerous studies for this commission, for which he had no documentary materials available, more than for any other commission in his career.

This bozzetto is a testament to Girodet’s talent for conveying narrative intensity and physical dynamism through his masterful use of charcoal and chalk. The carefully hatched surfaces of the garments are comparable to the charging hussar in another study of the same painting (MET 2011.86). What is remarkable about this study, however, are the white accents that Girodet uses to lend texture and depth to the depiction. It is reported by contemporaries that he painted the painting at night by the light of lamps. The dramatic chiaroscuro effects are expressed in highlights that emphasise the muscles of the struggling figure and add a touch of realism and extravagance to the fabrics of the fainting man’s clothing.

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