Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran
(Charles Durand) (French, Lille 1838 - 1917 Paris)
Portrait of Philippe Burty, 1874
Inscribed top left: A P. Burty; signed and dated top right: Carolus-Duran / 1874.
Oil on canvas
18 3/4 x 16 in. (47.5 x 40.5 cm)
R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1994
Although Carolus-Duran is best known for his formal "society" portraits, he also painted a series of informal and direct likenesses of friends and family members. Philippe Burty, a close friend of the artist, was one of the more progressive art critics of his era; he was a particularly strong early supporter of the Impressionists.
Philippe Burty (1830-1890) was one of the more progressive art critics and writers of his generation. 1 His many articles in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts (for which he was an art critic from 1859), La République Française, and other journals directed attention to innovations and new developments in the fine and decorative arts. During the 1850s Burty was instrumental in popularizing and soliciting support for the mid-nineteenth-century revival of the art of etching. By the 1860s he turned his attention more towards the decorative and applied arts. This involvement brought him into contact with the art of the Orient, and he became an avid collector of Japanese art. Burty coined the term "japonisme" and wrote several articles on the contemporary taste for Japanese art and culture in France. He was also an outspoken and early champion of the Impressionists, defending their painterly techniques and aesthetic theories against the attacks of more conservative contemporaries.
Carolus-Duran's portrait of Burty was completed in 1874; the exact circumstances under which it was painted are unknown but can probably be surmised. At the 1874 Salon exhibition in Paris, Carolus-Duran's fashionable portraits of women were criticized by proponents of naturalism (such as Émile Zola and Jules Castagnary). Burty remained staunch in his support of the artist, however, praising his freer style of painting and the subtler, more refined tones and draftsmanship that characterized these works. 2 It may be that this intimate and compelling likeness represents the bond then forged between artist and critic.
Throughout his career, Carolus-Duran produced small, informal likenesses of friends and relatives in addition to his more formal and elegant "official" portraits. For the most part, these are simple heads or bust-length likenesses, with the sitter seen in full face or in profile against a vigorously brushed backdrop. They are more freely and expressively painted than the artist's society portraits; many, like the Portrait of Philippe Burty, carry inscriptions that indicate that the artist presented the finished work to the sitter as a token of friendship. Examples of similar likenesses by Carolus-Duran include a portrait of his sister Maria, dated 1875 (Bremen, Kunsthalle); a portrait of the art critic Zacharie Astruc, painted about 1860 (Paris, Musée d'Orsay); and a double portrait of the artists Henri Fantin-Latour and Henri-Charles Oulevay, dated 1861 (Paris, Musée d'Orsay). 3
Many of the artist's portraits--both the small, intimate likenesses and the larger formal paintings--embody a dialogue with the art of the past. The influence of court portraits by Velásquez, Goya, or Titian, for example, is evident in the elegant compositions and stately poses of Carolus-Duran's society portraits. 4 The virtuoso brushwork and rich palettes of these earlier masters--and their more contemporary presence in the work of the realist painter Gustave Courbet --stimulated Carolus-Duran's own strikingly vibrant and direct painting technique.
The simple compositional format of the Portrait of Philippe Burty hints at Venetian portraits of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (such as those by Giovanni Bellini, or the early Titian) as well as their northern counterparts, by the German Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98-1543). In fact, Carolus-Duran named Holbein (along with Rembrandt and Frans Hals) as one of his primary influences. 5 The traditional contrast of a simple, almost iconic, profile likeness against a vibrant backdrop--so characteristic of portraits by the sixteenth-century German master--is effectively fused here with Carolus-Duran's bravura brushwork and thickly impastoed highlights.
M. E. Wieseman
Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran (Charles Durand) received his first artistic training in Lille, and then studied in Paris for five years beginning in 1853. He returned to Lille in 1858, and began a successful career as a portraitist. Upon his second visit to Paris in 1859-60, the artist became close friends with Édouard Manet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Félix Bracquemond, and other young painters and art critics who shared his interests in realism and in the painterly traditions of Venetian and Spanish art. In 1862-66 Carolus-Duran traveled to Italy; he returned briefly to France before leaving for Spain, where he remained until 1868. By 1869 Carolus-Duran had established himself in Paris as a fashionable portraitist. In 1873 he opened a studio for young painters; John Singer Sargent was among his most talented students. By the mid 1870s Carolus-Duran had turned from his early realist style to one more concerned with painterly effect. Although primarily a portraitist, Carolus-Duran also painted landscapes, history paintings, ideal nudes, and still lifes. He was extraordinarily successful, and continued to reap honors and financial rewards to the end of his life. He died in Paris in 1917.
Weinberg, H. Barbara. The Lure of Paris: Nineteenth-Century American Painters and Their French Teachers. New York, London, and Paris, 1991, pp. 189-219.
Bajou, Valérie M. C. In The Dictionary of Art. Edited by Jane Turner. Vol. 5. London and New York, 1996, pp. 228-29.
Probably by descent to the daughter of the sitter, Madeleine Haviland, née Burty
Collection Mme. Maric-Haviland, Paris
With Shepherd Gallery, New York (1983)
Sale New York (Christie's), 1 March 1990, lot 19
With Christopher J. Robinson, New York, from whom acquired in 1994
Paris, Cercle de la Place Vendôme, 1874. 6
The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980-81. The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing 1830-1890. 12 November - 18 January (also shown at The Brooklyn Museum; The St. Louis Art Museum; Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove). Cat. no. 220.
New York, Shepherd Gallery, 1983. French Nineteenth Century Watercolors, Drawings, Pastels, Paintings and Sculpture. Spring. Cat. no. 51.
Weisberg, Gabriel P. "Philippe Burty: A Notable Critic of the Nineteenth Century." Apollo 91 (1970), p. 296.
Weisberg, Gabriel P. In The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing 1830-1900. Exh. cat., The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980, cat. no. 220, p. 249.
French Nineteenth Century Watercolors, Drawings, Pastels, Paintings and Sculpture. Exh. cat., Shepherd Gallery, New York, Spring 1983, n.p.
The canvas support of the Portrait of Philippe Burty has been stretched so that the weave is diagonal. The fabric has been cut from a larger preprimed canvas. The paint layer ranges from thin washes, which allow the light grey ground to show through, to more opaque layers. Modeling of the hair and flesh tones has been done wet-in-wet. There is minor inpainting along the top and bottom edges, and in small areas in the jacket and hair. The painting is generally in excellent condition.
1. On Burty, in addition to the sources cited in the Literature, see Gabriel P. Weisberg, The Early Years of Philippe Burty: Art Critic, Amateur and Japoniste, 1855-1875 (Baltimore, 1967); and idem, The Independent Critic: Philippe Burty and the Visual Arts of Mid-Nineteenth-Century France (Berne and New York, 1993).
2. Philippe Burty, "Le Salon de 1874," La République Française (24 May 1874); also idem, "Le Salon de 1876," La République Française (17 May 1876). Cited by Gabriel P. Weisberg in The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing 1830-1890 (exh. cat., The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980-81), p. 249. Burty had favorably reviewed Carolus-Duran's work as early as 1866; see Gabriel P. Weisberg, The Independent Critic: Philippe Burty and the Visual Arts of Mid-Nineteenth-Century France (New York, 1993), p. 52.
3. Portrait of the Artist's Sister Maria, dated 1875, oil on canvas, 54.3 x 40.7 cm, Bremen, Kunsthalle, inv. 758-1958/7; Portrait of Zacharie Astruc, about 1860, oil on canvas, 41 x 31 cm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay, inv. RF 1950-36; and Portrait of Fantin-Latour and Oulevay, dated 1861, oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay, inv. RF 2755. Other informal portrait studies include a likeness of E. Berthon, dated 1870 (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, inv. A764), as well as portraits of Édouard Manet, and the American painter James Carroll Beckwith (Huntington, N.Y., Heckscher Museum).
4. Noted by H. Barbara Weinberg, in The Lure of Paris: Nineteenth-Century American Painters and Their French Teachers (New York, London, and Paris, 1991), p. 194.
5. Carolus-Duran, quoted in H. [Robert Hinckley?], "A French Painter and his Pupils," Century 31 (January 1886), p. 374.
6. Noted in Gabriel P. Weisberg, The Independent Critic: Philippe Burty and the Visual Arts of Mid-Nineteenth-Century France (New York, 1993), p. 145 note.