Théodore Chassériau

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Théodore Chassériau
Two Studies of a Blacksmith's Torso for "Order Meeting the Needs of War"; verso: drapery studies
ca. 1844
Black chalk on paper; verso: black chalk.
8 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches (240 x 345 mm)
Gift of the Christian Humann Foundation.

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In 1844, Chasseriau was commissioned to create a decorative series for the Staircase of Honor in the Cour des Comptes (Court of Auditors) of the old Palais d'Orsay. He developed a program to adorn the staircase with murals in oil on plaster devoted to War and Peace, and the cycle would become his most celebrated public decorations. Unfortunately, the building and his canvases were largely destroyed by fire during the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
Some aspects of the decoration are now only known from old photographs, although several fragments were transferred to canvas and are now preserved in the Louvre. This study of a blacksmith's torso is preparatory for the figure at the extreme right foreground of the scene devoted to Order Meeting the Needs of War. The figure is one of several around a forge and is shown naked except for a loincloth with his back to the viewer as he hammers tools on the anvil. While the figure is present in the somewhat blurry old photographs of the mural (see Prat 1988, 210), he is cropped from the well-known compositional study for this scene in the Louvre (RF 24337). However, he can be seen in an anonymous watercolor copy of the mural in the same collection (RF 51767).


Inscribed in black chalk with various color notations, including "clair jaune"; "noir."
Watermark: none.

Count Christian Humann-Guileminot (1929-1981), New York.
Associated names: 

Humann, Christian, 1929-1981, former owner.


Prat, Louis-Antoine. Dessins De Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856 / Par Louis-Antoine Prat. Paris: Ministère De La Culture Et De La Communication, Éditions De La Réunion Des Musées Nationaux, 1988. Musée Du Louvre. Cabinet Des Dessins. Inventaire Général Des Dessins, École Française.