François-Joseph Heim

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François-Joseph Heim
Full-Length Portrait of M. de Gestin
ca. 1822
Black and white chalk, on light brown laid paper lined with Japanese paper.
12 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches (311 x 165 mm)
Gift of John M. Thayer.

Heim's inscription identifies this as a study of Mr. de Gestin, a figure who appears in the artist's painting "Transferring the Bones of the Royal Family to the Church of St. Denis, 18th January 1817" (Le transfert des ossements des rois dans un caveau à Saint-Denis le 18 janvier 1817), exhibited at the Salon of 1822. The painting, in ruinous condition, remains in the sacristy of Saint-Denis; a more legible sketch in oils is in the Musée de l'Ile de France, Sceaux.
When Louis XVIII ascended to the throne in 1814, he sought to restore the basilica of Saint-Denis as a royal necropolis and to recover the ashes of earlier kings exhumed during the revolution. On the anniversary of Louis XVI's death, 21 January 1815, he celebrated the return of the king's remains, along with those of Marie-Antoinette, from the Madeleine cemetery to Saint-Denis. These remains were placed in coffins two years later. Gestin was the second aide to the Grand Master of Ceremonies of France, who assisted the Archbishop of Paris on the occasion; both can be seen before the church doorway. Heim carefully produced studies of individual figures for the canvas, identifying each with an inscription.
While little known today, Heim enjoyed a successful academic career as a history painter and a skilled portraitist. His choice of subject led him to be closely associated with the Bourbon Restoration and a talented practitioner of traditional painting well into the nineteenth century.


Inscribed at lower right, in pen and brown ink, "Mr de Gestin Fr.../ cir..."

John M. Thayer (1944-2004), Wilmington, DE.
Associated names: 

Thayer, John M. (John MacLane), 1944-2004, former owner.