Lyon gets a new Fleury Richard

All the versions of this article: English , français

19/5/23 - Acquisition - Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts - Fleury Richard is credited with the invention of a new style that was later called troubadour painting, the first example of which was his Valentine of Milan mourning the death of her husband, which was admired by his master, the great David: "It resembles no one, it is as new in effect as it is in colour". This painting introduced the exhibition "L’invention du passé" in 2014 (see article).
But scenery was needed to stage the great and small story, so Fleury Richard also studied nature, ruins and remains likely to enhance his characters.

1. Fleury Richard (1777-1852)
La Grotte de La Balme, c. 1809-1810
Oil on canvas - 88 x 67 cm
Lyon, Museum of Fine Arts
Photo: Galerie La Nouvelle Athènes
See the image in its page

After studying and working in Paris, he decided to return to Lyon in 1809. That same year, his friend Alexandre Millin du Perreux took him on a tour of the Dauphiné. They stopped in the vicinity of the village of La Balme, not far from Aix-les-Bains, and set off to explore the surrounding caves.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon recently purchased a painting of La Grotte de La Balme (ill. 1) from the Galerie La Nouvelle Athènes. The artist represented this place for itself, monumental and mysterious. But he took up this composition again the following year, and used it as the setting for a historical scene which he exhibited at the Salon of 1810, illustrating The Death of Saint Paul the Hermit. The old man is lying next to St Anthony. According to the Golden Legend, St. Paul, persecuted by the emperor Decius, withdrew for decades into a cave, where he was visited by St. Anthony; they conversed all night, and in the early hours of the morning, Paul died. Anthony wrapped him in the cloak given to him by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria. The picture is now in the Musée Gassendi in Digne-les-Bains (ill. 2). The painter was criticised for the tiny size of his figures in this landscape, as if they were merely a pretext.

2. Fleury Richard (1777-1852)
The Death of Saint Paul the Hermit, 1810
Oil on canvas - 88 x 67 cm
Digne-les-Bains, Gassendi Museum
Photo: Musée Gassendi
See the image in its page

During his journey through the Dauphiné, Fleury Richard is said to have brought back a Carthusian habit which he used in several of his paintings, for example La Chartreuse de Saint-Bruno.
As for Millin du Perreux, he used the Balme cave to depict the pilgrimage of Francis I in a painting that he also exhibited at the Salon of 1810. He also represented the grotto of Gèdre or La Grotte Saint-Michel d’Eau Douce, near Marseille. Other artists visited the area around La Balme. Pierre Prévost (1764-1823) exhibited the Ruins of the Old Vertrieux Castle, next to the cave, at the Salon of 1810.

Your comments

In order to be able to discuss articles and read the contributions of other subscribers, you must subscribe to The Art Tribune. The advantages and conditions of this subscription, which will also allow you to support The Art Tribune, are described on the subscription page.

If you are already a subscriber, sign in.