Vaches paissant dans la Clairière, c. 1840 by Constant Troyon (French, 1810 - 1865)
Constant Troyon
French, 1810 - 1865

Vaches paissant dans la Clairière

c. 1840
Pastel on paper mounted
31 3/8 x 26 1/8 inches (79.69 x 66.36 centimeters)
Framed: 40 1/4 x 35 inches (102.24 x 88.9 centimeters)

Signed lower right: C. Troyon.


Collection of the Vicomte de Curel, Paris
Sale of the above, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 25 Nov 1918 (orig. sale date 3 May 1918, postponed), lot 23 as 82 x 68 cm.

cf: A similarly composed pastel by Troyon entitled Rural Amenities and dated c. 1835-45 in the collection of the Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington NY.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Michel Schulman and will be included in the catalogue raissoné currently in preparation.

Constant Troyon is best known for his large-scale paintings of animals inspired by the works of the two great 17th century animal painters, Albert Cuyp and Paulus Potter. Still early in his career, as Troyon developed from his initial training as a porcelain painter to pursue a more serious artistic path, he looked to another artistic source: the pastoral landscapes of the 18th-century. Works by artists such as Boucher or Pater, with their fête champetre scenes and view of an idyllic rural life would have been deeply familiar to Troyon, especially given his background in porcelain painting which drew heavily on 18th-century motifs. Indeed, Troyon even copied Boucher directly in developing his approach to the pastel medium: he completed a pendant pair of pastoral landscapes after Boucher in pastel (vente Bleymuller, 1877). Although the Barbizon painters are best known for initiating the tradition of plein air painting directly from the landscape motif, they nonetheless drew upon familiar imagery to develop their own mode of working. Troyon’s fellow artists Jules Dupré and Narcisse Virgil Diaz de la Pena, also trained in porcelain painting, similarly drew upon the Rococo style, as can be seen in Diaz’s gypsy groups or classical gods in the forest and the lush, fullness of Dupré’s pastoral mode.

The present work is a rare example of Troyon’s Rococo-influenced landscapes. The soft palette of pinks, green-blues and greens, chiaroscuro effects, and the soft forms of his trees recall the work of the great 18th-century artists, Boucher in particular. Troyon’s handling of the pastel is adept, and he must have particularly confident about his use of the medium considering the scale of the work: most pastels by the artist are significantly smaller.

Constant Troyon (French, 1810 - 1865)

Constant Troyon was born August 28, 1810 in Sevres, where both of his parents were employed in The Sevres Porcelain Factory. He was trained by Riocreux, who was in charge of the porcelain museum at the Factory, and worked as a painter on porcelain. He drew and painted from nature in his spare time. In about 1824 he met Diaz, who became a closed friend. He made his debut at the Salon with three conventional landscapes and continued to work as a porcelain decorator. He painted in Sologne, in Brittany and with Jules Dupré in 1843, in the Landes. In the same year he met Rousseau and went to work in Barbizon, where he received his true introduction to landscape painting. Troyon exhibited views of the Forest of Fontainebleau at the Salons of 1844, 1846,and 1848. The decisive moment of his career came in 1847 during a visit to Holland, when he saw the work of Cuyp and Potter for the first time. He began to introduce domestic animals into his own pictures and became as a result a famous animal painter. He continued to paint landscapes, working mainly in Normandy, and the area of Tours, also visiting England and Tours and returning occasionally to the Barbizon region. In 1859 he advised the young Monet to work out of doors. He gained an international reputation via many exhibitions of his work, which were held in collections abroad, and he was swamped with commissions. In his last years he painted seascapes on the Normandy coast; it was during this period that Boudin worked for him. Constant Troyon died March 20, 1865 in Paris at the age of fifty-five.

Reprinted from The Barbizon School and 19th Century French Landscape Painting.

Selected Museum Collections:
Paris, Musée d?Orsay, Musée du Louvre; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Frick Collection, Brooklyn Museum; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes; Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums; Art Institute of Chicago; Detroit Institute of Arts; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Pasadena, CA, Norton Simon Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Pittsburgh, Carngie Museum of Art; Fine Arts Muesums of San Francisco; Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; Taiwan, Chi-Mei Museum;Washington DC, National Gallery of Art; Williamstown, MA, Clark Art Museum

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