Ary Scheffer

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Ary Scheffer
Lénore, or The Return of the Army
ca. 1834
Watercolor and gouache over black chalk on paper.
12 x 17 5/8 inches (300 x 445 mm)
Gift of DeCourcy E. McIntosh in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr.'s tenure as director.

The present work is a full watercolor version of a painting of the same subject in Scheffer's native Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum, DM/S/40). According to a 1934 catalog of the Dordrecht museum, the executor of Scheffer's estate related that the canvas was produced in collaboration with the artist's mother, Cornelia Lamme. The painting was translated into print by Louise Girard, whose engraving was published in 1845 by Goupil in Paris.
The story is based on a 1774 poem by Gottfried Auguste Bürger (1747-1794), which was popularized by Germaine de Stäel, who wrote about it in her 1810 volume Of Germany (De l'Allemagne). A subsequent translation, possibly one from 1829 or 1830, inspired Scheffer. Set during the Seven Years' War (1756-63) waged by Frederick II of Prussia against Austria and its allies, the Prussians emerge victorious in a battle near Prague and return home. As the returning soldiers greet their families, Leonore waits for her beloved, Wilhelm, who does not appear.
The Dordrecht museum contains further drawings related to the painting, including a watercolor study of the couple embracing to the left of Leonore and a pencil drawing for the composition. In addition, a pen and ink study is in the Leiden Prentenkabinet, and an oil sketch is preserved in the Musée Municipal, Guéret. Another watercolor is in the Musée de la vie romantique, Paris, which is also the site of Scheffer's Paris atelier.


Signed in pen and brown ink at lower right, "A. Scheffer."

DeCourcy E. McIntosh, New York.
Associated names: 

McIntosh, DeCourcy E., former owner.


Leo Ewals, Ary Scheffer, 1795-1858, Paris: Museé de la Vie Romantique, 1996, p. 34.

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