France. - The gallery we entered was largely occupied by the works of Messrs. Decamps, Théodore Rousseau and Meissonier.
We were still obliged to make a simple enumeration. It was not possible for us to pass over in silence so many accumulated masterpieces.
First we found a painting belonging to the Emperor's household; the End of Winter (3128), by M. Français; then two paintings by M. Comte; the Meeting of Henri II and the Duke of Guise at the Château de Blois (2784), and the accusation of the Cardinal of Guise after the assassination of his brother (2785); two door tops for the Ministry of the Interior, by M. Baron Baron; Le Toucher (2476) and L'Ouïe (2473); un Paysan rabattant sa faux (3127), by M. Français; un Marais dans les Landes (3938), by M. Th. Rousseau; finally, Dans la coulisse, intérieur de saltimbanques (3455), by M. E. Lambert.
We were approaching the series of works by M. Decamps, a pupil of M. Abel de Pujol; who would believe it? so far was there from the manner of the master to that of his disciple. Decamps had been decorated in 1839 and made an officer of the Legion of Honour in 1851. His paintings fetched fabulous prices; his slightest sketches were literally covered with gold coins by the amateurs who competed for them.
We found first the Monkeys (2892); the Turkish Café (2865); Donkey and Dog (2876), one of his oldest paintings; Donkeys of the East (2868).
Two landscapes by M. Th. Rousseau: the Côtes de Granville (3927), the Barbison plain (3936), and some charming paintings by M. Meissonier; then come : Reading (3662); two Portraits (5061); a Young Man Working and a Man Drawing (5058, 5060); Bowlers (3663); Reading (5059); Barrel Game (5053); a Rixe in a Cabaret (3660), the author's last painting; the Bravi (3661), a painting exhibited two years ago; a Sunset (3931), and the Gorges d'Apremont (3935), by M. Th. Rousseau.
We found several other works by M. Decamps: the Dogs (2891); Hens and Ducks (2860); a fantasy, the Round of Smyrna (5035); the Turkish Butcher (2878), one of the author's masterpieces; a Village Street in Italy (2874); Spaniards (2806); Halt of Arab Riders (2890); Hunters (2889), and the Grandmother (2880).
The Exit from the Turkish School, a watercolour (5039), was considered one of the most magnificent things to come out of Decamps' studio. The story of Samson (2894), in 9 drawings, was also much admired. This magnificent collection belonged to M. Benjamin Delessert.
The Baker Monkeys, drawing (2898); the Ford, drawing (2897); the Souvenir de la Turquie d'Asie (2884); the Turkish Café (2887); the Turkish Children (2871); the Turkish Bazaar (2893); Joseph sold by his brothers (2857), are less famous, but equally beautiful.
We note, in the intervals left by M. Karl Bodmer; a Burial of a Young Girl in the Vosges (2032), by M. G. Brion; a Marsh (3933); a Morning Effect in the Landes (3930), and a Cultivated Hillside (3939), by M. Th. Rousseau.
The Monkey Painter (2861), belonging to M. de Morny; the Hunters with a Mirror (2863); Moses Saved from the Waters (2836); Eliezer and Rebekah (2858); the Miraculous Fishing (2855); the Bohemians (2886); the Tiger and the Elephant (2875); the Bowlers (2881), are very pretty pictures, though less admired by amateurs.
The Defeat of the Cimbres (2859) was a huge composition, in a very small space, which surprised and dazzled. In this fantastic work, appearance was everything. The artist had succeeded in using colour to create immense depths, where the viewer's gaze would be lost. Then came secondary works: The Improviser (2888); Don Quixote and Sancho (2864); Court Interior (5036); Beggar (2877); Tow Horses (2873); An Anatolian Landscape (5037); Italian Peasant (2879) ; The Hunting with a Falcon (2862); a Kennel (2882); the Child with a Lizard (2872); a Farmyard (2870); and finally, a small masterpiece, which was a great success as an art and as a spirit, the Monkey with a Mirror (5034).
Two landscapes by M. Ch.-F. Daubigny (2843 and 2844), and the Drum Lesson (3307), by M. Hille-macher, completed this interesting gallery.
© Guide dans le Palais de l'Industrie et des Beaux-Arts 1855