Description: EMILE-JEAN-HORACE VERNET PARIS 1789 - 1863 PORTRAIT OF COLONEL AUGUSTE-FREDERIC-BON-AMOUR, MARQUIS DE TALHOUËT oil on canvas 39 1/2 by 33 in.; 100.3 by 83.8 cm.
Exhibited: Paris, Musée de l'Armée aux Invalides, 1949;
Kansas City, Missouri, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, The Taste of Napoleon, 2 October - 16 November 1969, no. 37;
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Museum of Art, Masters of the Portrait, 4 March - 29 April 1979, no. 22.
Literature: Les Beaux-Arts: Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, vol. VI, 4th edition, Paris 1863, p. 117;
A. Dayot, Les Vernet, Paris 1898, p. 198 (according to the list of sales kept by the artist's wife, this portrait was sold in May 1818 for 3,000 francs);
C. Renaudeau, Horace Vernet (1789-1863): Chronologie et catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint (unpub. dissertation), Université de Lille 1999, p. 158, no. 75, reproduced pl. 652.
Provenance: De la Grand Family;
With Rosenberg & Stiebel, Inc., New York, by 1969;
Sale, New York, Sotheby's, 23 May 1990, lot 9, where unsold.
Notes: Horace Vernet was the grandson of the celebrated marine painter, Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and the son of the equestrian painter Carle Vernet. He received his earliest artistic training from his father and also received formal training from François-André Vincent, with whom he studied until 1810 when he won the prix de Rome. He made his Salon debut in 1812 with The Taking of a Fortified Encampment near Glatz, which had been commissioned by King Jerome of Westphalia, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. Although himself a supporter of Napoleon, Vernet also had success during the Restoration.
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This portrait, painted in 1818, depicts a decorated soldier of the Napoleonic Wars, who much like Vernet, was also flourishing under the Bourbon regime. August-Frederic-Bon-Amour, marquis de Talhouet (1788-1842) enlisted in the army in 1803 and distinguished himself in the Battle of Moskova (also known as the Battle of Borodino) during Napoleon's Russian campaign. He received the rank of colonel in 1812 as a reward for his bravery during this battle, when Russian forces finally mounted their successful opposition to the French army. After Napoleon's defeat, Talhouet joined the Bourbon army and became Pair de France in 1819.
Vernet has depicted the colonel's costume in exacting and minute detail along with the medals he had earned: the Légion d'honneur, established in 1802 under Napoleon and the Décoration du Lys, established after the Restoration in 1814. Further enriching his depiction of his sitter's accomplishments, Vernet has depicted the Battle of Moskova in the background of the portrait. Identifiable by his costume, Talhouet is depicted on the left on a brown horse battling a Cossack soldier on a white horse. This combination of immediacy and historical accuracy was a hallmark of Vernet's style. He was almost universally well-regarded by his contemporaries and illustrated most of the important events and actors of this politically charged period.