Jean-Jacques Henner

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Jean-Jacques Henner
ca. 1889
Black chalk on the verso of a printed page.
8 1/8 x 5 3/8 inches (206 x 137 mm)
Bequest of John M. Thayer.

This rough study of the crucified Christ is drawn on the verso of a printed subscription letter soliciting support for Paulo Guerra, a former Italian professor in need at an advanced age. The letter was composed by Vauthier, engraver, and E. Guillaume, architect, and provides the addresses of three colleagues willing to take donations: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, Lévy, and Guadet. The printed date is 187-, leaving a space for the addition of the handwritten date when the missive was sent.
The drawing is preparatory for Henner's Crucifixion canvas of 1889-92, now in the Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris, Petit Palais (PPP 188). The picture was commissioned in 1888 by the Ministry of Public Instruction and the Arts for the grand chamber of the Cour de Cassation in the Palais de Justice, which was removed in 1904 and placed on deposit at the Musée du Luxembourg. It was later transferred to the Grand Palais before being placed on deposit at Musées de Strasbourg.
Henner's religious paintings feature the luminous beauty of Christ's body, based on studies of his models, Silvio Caira, who posed for the artist from January to May 1889 and again that November, and Joseph Schoeffel, who sat for Henner in July. In preparation, Henner made several studies and produced replicas between 1890, when the picture was installed, and 1892 when the space opened to the public (see de Lannoy, C.1007-C.1015).
Before the painting was installed, it was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, where it inspired critical backlash for its conservative subject in a year heightened by sensitivity to the centenary of the French Revolution.


Stamped in black ink at lower left, "J.J. Henner".

Molly Klobe/Chamberlin Gallery, Inc., 1995; John M. Thayer (1944-2004), Wilmington, DE.
Associated names: 

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

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