Eugène Devéria

Eugène François Marie Joseph Devéria, born in Paris on April 22, 1805 and died in Pau on February 3, 1865, is a romantic painter and painter of French history. He held to the taste for historic subjects that he painted according to the academic formulae of the time.With Eugène Delacroix and Louis Boulanger, he is one of the main representatives of the French romantic movement in painting.

Eugène Devéria is the son of François-Marie Devéria, head of the department of the Navy, and Désirée François-Chaumont, a native of Santo Domingo, whose family was ruined by the Revolution. The Devéria family has five children, Achille, Désirée, Octavie, Eugène and Laure.

This large family with modest incomes is quickly taken care of by Achille, whose illustrator talents and hard work ensure regular financial returns. It is a family of artists with not only Achille and Eugene, but also Laure la benjamine, who shows a real talent as a designer and successfully exhibits at the Salon. She died prematurely in May 1838. In the 1820s and 1830s, the Parisian home of the Devéria attracted artists and musicians: “Romanticism was at home among the Devéria as it was then …”, will remember years later the poet Theophile Gautier, a great friend of Eugene.

Eugène Devéria showed early dispositions for drawing and his brother Achille, of whom he was a pupil, first entered the Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied under the direction of Girodet-Trioson and Guillaume Guillon Lethière.

The first consignments of Eugène Devéria at the Salon date from 1824, they are little noticed there. In 1827, on the other hand, his monumental painting of The Birth of Henry IV was a triumph. His studio was located in the Rue de l’Est, 1 in the house of the sculptor Louis Petitot, where the sculptor Cartellier was also housed, and the artist occupied him half with Louis Boulanger, who finished his Mazeppa while Eugene was working at his birth Of Henri IV. Eugène Devéria, who has attended Victor Hugo assiduously since 1824 with his brother Achille, was inspired by the subject of his painting of a short story by Abel Hugo, brother of Victor, published in Le Conservateur littéraire in 1820.

Eugene Devéria was at that time one of the most beautiful hopes of nascent Romanticism. No beginning was more brilliant and made such promises. It may well be believed, when the Birth of Henry IV was exposed, that France was to have her Paul Veronese, and that a great colourist had come. “The artist who began with this master stroke was barely twenty-two years old,” wrote Theophile Gautier in 1874 in his History of Romanticism.

As a result of this success, the young painter received numerous official commissions: a painting, intended for the ceiling of a room in the Louvre, entitled Puget presenting his Milon de Crotone to Louis XIV, portraits of historical figures for the Musée de l The History of France which Louis-Philippe wished to create at Versailles; He took part in the construction of the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette church in Paris and that of Fougeres in Brittany. But the triumph of 1827 was not renewed and he accepted in 1838 the proposal to leave the capital for Avignon Proposes to remake all the painted decoration of the cathedral Notre-Dame des Doms. The extent of the task, the insalubrity of the place and a dramatic flood where he misses perishing with his family exhausts the painter who, sick, weakened, leaves the papal city to recover in Bearn. In 1841, cured, he settled permanently in Pau where he will remain until his death.

His wife, Caroline-Aglae Duransel (1793-1863), a Creole whom he had known for many years but whom he married only in January 1841, his daughter Marie (1831- 1856) and his niece Carry Chaumont, whom he raised as his own child. In 1845, another of his nephews, Théodule, joined for several years this true family recomposée. To provide for his home, Eugène Devéria gives drawing lessons, makes portraits of the rich winterers in Pau, or during the summer goes to the spa resort of Eaux-Bonnes, to propose to curists portraits and small picturesque scenes . He devoted many of his works to the Pyrenees, scenes of genre and portraits. At the same time, he regularly continued his mailings of paintings in Paris, where they were received with growing indifference. His last sending to the Salon dates from 1861: The Reception of Christopher Columbus by Ferdinand and Isabella.

Life is not easy for the painter and his family. Thus Deveria did not hesitate to seek fortune abroad, in the Netherlands (1849), then three times in England and Scotland between 1849 and 1853, in the hope, not followed by effect , To seduce a rich aristocratic clientele. The painter also returned to Avignon in 1856 to continue the work of Notre-Dame des Doms, left unfinished in 1841. He was accompanied by his daughter Marie, his pupil, but the girl died suddenly on his return to Béarn on November 27 . Despite a second stay in Avignon in 1857, Devéria could not finish what was to be his great work.

When the painter settled in Béarn in 1841, he recovered a tottering health, but he also discovered religion: through a spiritual crisis, this lukewarm Catholic converted to Protestantism in 1843. Religion then becomes, as much as the Painting, the pivot of his existence. He participated actively in the life of his church in Pau and abroad: he gave Sunday School classes to the children, visited the sick, spoke to the temple … On his funeral act, Pastor Cadier wrote on the 4th February 1865: “It was one of the columns and the glory of our Church, the model Christian, the friend of the children, the poor, the sick …” Converted fervently and proselytizing, he tries to bring his entourage to his new faith , By words and writings, exasperating his family, Achilles the first and his old friends from whom he gradually cuts himself off.

Devéria suddenly died in Pau on 3 February 1865.

The Reading of the Sentence of Mary Stuart, 1926, Museum of Fine Arts of Angers
The Birth of Henri IV, 1827, oil on canvas, 484 × 392 cm, musée du Louvre
The Death of Joan of Arc, 1841, Museum of Angers
Puget presenting the group of Milon de Crotone to Louis XIV, 1833, oil on canvas, 45 × 38 cm, musée du Louvre
The Death of Jane de Seymour, 1847
The Charity of Saint Vincent, Montpellier, Chapel of Mercy
Portrait of Baron Louis, Toul, Museum of Art and History
Lady Rowena receiving her cassette from Diaen, Dijon, Musée Magnin
Portrait of Antoine Julien Meffre-Rouzan, 1833
Portrait of Esprit Calvet
Portrait of Charles Theodule Deveria, 1864
Portrait of Amaury-Duval
Portrait of Honoré de Balzac, Museum of Fine Arts of Tours