National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Annual Bulletin 7, 1983-1984

Annual Index
Author & Subject

The Shepherd Paris of Jean-Germain Drouais

by John D. Bandiera

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12 I do not know when or where this attribution originated.

13 Several antique versions are illustrated by S. Reinach in Répertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine (Paris, 1897) t. 1, p. 499 and p. 502. One figure (p. 502, pl. 833) in the Smith Barry Collection is particularly close in pose, figural type and details to the Ottawa The Shepherd Paris. I know of two depictions from the eighteenth century of Paris as a shepherd. One is by Pierre Gautherot (1769-1825) (see this paper, fig.14). The other (brought to my attention by Michael Pantazzi, Assistant Curator of European Art, National Gallery of Canada) is by Frédéric Oesmarais (1756-1813 ). For a reference to the latter work, see A. de Montaiglon and J. Guiffrey, Correspondance des Directeurs de l'Académie de France à Rome avec les Surintendants des Bâtiments (Paris, 1905 ), v. XV, p. 304. The most famous nineteenth-century version is by Canova (Munich, Neue Pinakothek).

14 H. J.. Rose, A Handbook of Greek Mythology (New York. E. P. Out ton & Co., 1959), p. 106.

15 Académie de France à Rome, op. cit., p. 202. Régis Michel expresses the opinion that The Shepherd Paris was painted after Orouais' death. He adds, "les ouvrages des pensionnaires de Rome sont encore mal connus: le nom de Orouais, ayant bénéficié d'un aura posthume, dut être libéralement appliqué à des tableaux victimes de l'anonymat."

16 Drouais did not sign his paintings. The Resurrection of the Son of the Widow of Nain (Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet) is signed, "Drouais pit. in Romae 1788," but the painting is very questionable and the date is absurd. The Ottawa The Shepherd Paris was cleaned in 1979 but the signature was not touched. 1t appears (based on visual evidence, UV, and infrared) that the signature was reconstructed some time ago and that all that survives of the original is, "...ais. f. Rom." It is possible that the signature was put on soon after Drouais' death and was subsequently touched up. Another possibility, raised by Myron Laskin Jr, Curator of European Art, National Gallery of Canada, is that the signature originally read, "Desmarais. f. Roma" ( there is the ghost of a letter before the "J" in the present signature that could be interpreted to be the remains of the letter "D"). This would mean that The Shepherd Paris was probably painted by Frédéric Desmarais, who was a pensionnaire in Rome from 1786 to 1790. We know that Desmarais executed a Shepherd Paris in 1788 (see above note 13). A contemporary description of this work is of little use in solving the puzzle: "La figure de Paris, par le Sr Desmarest, est vraie de ton, mais égale; les ombres en sont peu solides et le fond, par trop de détails, détruit l'effet de la figure. Ses académies sont lourdes. il y a quelques disproportions dans quelques parties" (in A. de Montaiglon and J. Guiffrey, loc. cit.). It seems unlikely, however, that the Commissaires of the Academy (quoted above) would criticize the Ottawa The Shepherd Paris for its heaviness and disproportion.

17 Académie de France à Rome, op, cit., p. 202.

18 Ibid.

19 A. de Montaiglon and J. Guiffrey, op. cit., p. 245.

20 The illustration is an engraving after the Dying Athlete because I was unable to obtain a photograph of the painting ( for an illustration, see Académie de France à Rome, op. cit p. 207). The Dying Athlete was conserved until recently in La Fère (Musée Jeanne d'Abouville). It is now being restored at the Louvre. When it was first exhibited, it bore the title L'Athlète mourant. Some sources refer to it as Wounded Roman Soldier.

21 A. de Montaiglon and J. Guifuey, op. cit., p. 96.

22 Jacques Hérissay, L'Éducation d'un Peintre, Germainjean Drouais (Evreux: Imprimerie de Charles Hérissey, 1905), p. 65.

23 A "tête de vieillard" is mentioned in a letter of 19 October 1785 from Lagrenée to d'Angivillier (see A. de Montaiglon and J. Guiffrey, op. cit., p. 48). It has been suggested that a study of a male head (Nantes, Musée des beaux-arts) is this work, but this is highly unlikely since a middle-aged man is depicted (see Académie de France à Rome, op. cit., p. 202 and fig. 48). For Orouais' participation in the painting of The Oath of the Horatii, see note 6 above.

24 Notably, E. E. Miel, op. cit., p. 8, and Jacques Hérissey, op. cit., p. 70.

25 Journal de Paris, op. cit., p. 526.

26 It is not known whether the subject matter is mythological or historical. It is likely, however, that it deals with defiance and / or revenge (see below, note 32 ). The sword leaning against the sarcophagus suggests that the hero is about to avenge, or has avenged already, a dead ancestor. One possibility is that the figure is Orestes.

27 In the Ottawa painting, originally the draperies hung down to the ground and concealed the tree stump. They were considerably reduced and covered with foliage, possibly to conform to classical models. It is not known when, and by whom, this change was made, but it is not recent.

28 See above, note 10.

29 Ibid.

30 An inscription on drawing number 34 reads, "à la villa albani les jambes sont très souples et abandon[ées]." Notations such as this one show Drouais' interest in qualities, such as suppleness, that he observed in classical statues at an early point in his Roman period. One finds similar qualities in The Shepherd Paris.

31 Académie de France à Rome, op. cit., p. 202.

32 Defiance in the face of great adversity is the dominant theme in Drouais' late works. This is true of the Dying Athlete, Marius at Minturnae, Philoctetes, and The Departure of Gaius Gracchus. Drouais' attitude toward art and life is summed up by a quotation that certain authors ascribe to him. When David suggested that his obsession with work might damage his health (as proved to be true), Drouais replied, "Vaincre ou Mourir, il faut que je sois Peintre ou rien." Ref. P. Chaussard, Le Pausanius Français (Paris: E Buisson, 1806 and 1808), p. 341.

Next Page | Notes 33 to 37

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