Theodore Chasseriau (born September 20, 1819 died October 8, 1856) was a French artist of the first half of the 19th century, an excellent portrait painter, master of battle scenes and nudity. Theodore Chasseriot ‘s work reflects the author’s unique vision. His paintings, with original motives and fresh images, are filled with mysterious charm, simultaneous nobility and voluptuousness.
Theodore Chasseriot lived a short life, most of which he worked and exhibited obsessively. He created graphic and pictorial portraits, wrote monumental cycles. He drew sketches for theatrical costumes in watercolors, worked in the technique of etching and lithography. Among his works are genre scenes and battles inspired by ancient mythology, Old Testament and Christian subjects, Shakespearean passions and unforgettable memories of the East.
Biography of Theodore Chasseriot
Theodore Chasserio was born on September 20, 1819 in Santo Domingo, the capital of the present Dominican Republic, into a large family of a French consular official. After the outbreak of the riots of 1822, the father sent the family to Paris. Theodore’s childhood is spent in a cheap boarding house. The family lives in poverty, the father’s salary is sorely lacking. The craving for drawing begins at the age of six. Contrary to the prejudice widespread in those days, the child’s desire to become an artist did not provoke a protest, but, on the contrary, was strongly supported by his parents.
In 1831, as a teenager, Theodore began attending the workshop of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, the recognized leader of European academism in 19th century painting. Works on an equal basis with adult young people. Eagerly absorbs the advice of a mentor and is ahead of older students. Ingres publicly calls Theodore “the future Napoleon of painting.”
But in 1834 the teacher hastily left for Rome. And the skills of classicism instilled in the workshop, with clean and flexible contour graphics, linearity and idealization, will be reflected in the later works of Chasseriot. A short training with the master also brought into creativity a love of the portrait genre and large religious scenes.
Left to himself, the young man finds himself in the company of young artists and writers, whose morals differ sharply from the strict rules established in Ingres’s workshop. Here he befriends Théophile Gautier (Pierre Jules Theophile Gautier), who becomes his spiritual mentor, and is fond of romanticism. In 1836, Theodore Chasseriot exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time and received a medal of the third degree. Old Testament legends were chosen for the debut.
The first success was followed by the failure of paintings with religious scenes at the Salon of 1838.
Chasseriot addresses the eternal theme of art the young female body. Draws ancient and biblical heroines. In 1839, the contour in his works becomes more wavy and viscous: movements become more complicated, warm shadows and pearl transitions appear, giving the images a soft silhouette. From this period, female images will dominate the artist’s work.
In 1840, Theodore received a large fee and went to Rome, to Ingres. The long-awaited meeting ended in discord. The Master found the ambiguous charm, tenderness and excitement of his disciple’s images to be incompatible with his doctrine. However, his stay in Italy had a favorable effect on the work of Theodore Chasserio. Inspired by the southern nature, the painter achieves new light-color effects. In academically traditional sketches, he paints the faces of ordinary people with oils: fishermen, peasant women, drovers. Finds new forms of emotional and decorative color.
The 1840s became the heyday of the master’s creativity, a period of intense and fruitful work. But varied and time-consuming work gradually undermines the artist’s strength. A trip to Algeria in 1846 had a strong influence on the work of Theodore Chasseriot. Shocked by the variety of types and faces, dazzled by the colorfulness and luxury of clothing, ornamental ligature of jewelry and utensils, the artist feverishly and dynamically works with a pencil and a brush. Oriental flavor is reflected in large exhibition and chamber works, becoming the main direction of creativity of the last decade. Theodore Chasseriot passed away on October 8, 1856, at the age of 37. He was found near an easel with an unfinished painting. Straining his last strength, the master tried to build a composition.
The most famous paintings by Theodore Chasseriot
Theodore Chasseriot’s paintings are interesting to both connoisseurs and ordinary art lovers. Unfortunately, fate harshly disposed of the master’s legacy many works were lost. The remaining works occupy a worthy place in museums and galleries around the world, among them:
- Venus Anadiomene (1838) is a nude painting that immortalized the name of Chasseriot in European painting.
- Andromeda chained to a rock by the Nereids” (1840) is a mythological painting in the artist’s early work.
- “The Toilet of Esther” (1841) is a painting with a biblical plot, recognized as a masterpiece.
- “Two Sisters” (1843) a portrait of two women creates a “presence effect”, is considered one of the best in the artist’s work.
- “Macbeth, accompanied by Banquo, meets three witches in the swamp” (1855) reflects the genre of literary painting in the work of the master.
- “Ali-Ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantinople” (1845) a group portrait in the style of romanticism, located in the Palace of Versailles.