Théodore Chassériau France
9-20-1819 El Limón, DOM –10-8-1856 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Théodore Chassériau was born in El Limón, in the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo now the Dominican Republic. In December 1820 the family left Santo Domingo for Paris, where the young Chassériau soon showed precocious drawing skill. He was accepted into the studio of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in 1830, at the age of eleven, and became the favorite pupil of the great classicist, who regarded him as his truest disciple.
After Ingres left Paris in 1834 to become director of the French Academy in Rome, Chassériau fell under the influence of Eugène Delacroix, whose brand of painterly colorism was anathema to Ingres. Théodore Chassériau's art has often been characterized as an attempt to reconcile the classicism of Ingres with the romanticism of Delacroix. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1836, and was awarded a third-place medal in the category of history painting. In 1840 Chassériau traveled to Rome and met with Ingres, whose bitterness at the direction his student's work was taking led to a decisive break.
In 1846, shortly after painting the colossal Ali-Ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantine and Chief of the Haractas, Followed by his Escort, Théodore Chassériau made his first trip to Algeria. From sketches made on this and subsequent trips he painted such subjects as Arab Chiefs Visiting Their Vassals and Jewish Women on a Balcony. A major late work, The Tepidarium (1853, in the Musée d'Orsay), depicts a large group of women drying themselves after bathing, in an architectural setting inspired by the artist's trip in 1840 to Pompeii.
After a period of ill health, exacerbated by his exhausting work on commissions for murals to decorate the Churches of Saint-Roch and Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Chassériau died at the age of 37 in Paris.
His work had a significant impact on the style of Puvis de Chavannes and Gustave Moreau, and—through those artists' influence—reverberations in the work of Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.
Works of Théodore Chassériau are today visible in the Musée du Louvre where a room is dedicated to him, in the Musée d'Orsay and in the Musée de Versailles. Collections in the United States holding works by Théodore Chassériau include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, the National Gallery of Art of Washington, D.C., The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Art Movement: Romanticism
Influences: Jean Ingres, Eugene Delacroix
Traveled: Italy, France, Algeria
Influenced: Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Gustave Moreau, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse