Ernest Meissonier (French, 1815-1891)
Oil on wood panel, Framed: 50.5 x 40 x 8 cm (19 7/8 x 15 3/4 x 3 1/8 in.); Unframed: 30.2 x 10 cm (11 7/8 x 3 15/16 in.). Bequest of Clara Louise Gehring Bickford 1986.68
Trained as a printmaker and book illustrator, Meissonier specialized in small paintings depicting scenes from French history and literature. This painting on wood panel depicts a man dressed like a character from The Three Musketeers (published in 1844) by Alexandre Dumas père. Such paintings, admired for their technical virtuosity and romantic subjects, were immensely popular. Meissonier also painted contemporary military subjects and themes and became an arch-foe of the Realist painter Gustave Courbet.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit. Exposition Meissonier (1893), no. 1011 (Sur un balcon, collection de M. Leroy, 1867).Lyons, Musée des Beaux-Arts. Ernest Meissonier: Rétrospective (1993), 107, no. 50 (repr.). Text by Constance Cain Hungerford et al.
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