Jules Dupré

Jules Dupré, (born in Nantes on April 5, 1811 and died at L’Isle-Adam on October 6, 1889). Dupré’s colour is sonorous and resonant. He showed preference for using dramatic sunset effects and stormy skies and seas as the subjects of his paintings. Late in life he changed his style and gained appreciably in largeness of handling and arrived at greater simplicity in his colour harmonies.

If Corot stands for the lyric and Rousseau for the epic aspect of the poetry of nature, Dupré is the exponent of his tragic and dramatic aspects.

He is the elder brother of the painter Léon Victor Dupré (1816-1879).

His father, a native of L’Isle-Adam, runs a porcelain factory in Parmain before settling in Nantes. Jules Dupré initially initiated the art of decorative ceramics and admired all his life Theodore Géricault, Claude Lorrain and Rembrandt.

In 1823 he arrived in Paris where he worked with an uncle who employed Auguste Raffet, Louis Cabat and Narcisse Díaz de la Peña. Then, he is admitted in the workshop of the landscaper Jean-Marie Diébolt and sells his first paintings in Paris. Becoming the friend of the landscape painter Louis Cabat, the latter persuades him to abandon the ceramics to paint genre scenes and outdoor landscapes. He studied Dutch painters and, in 1831, exhibited for the first time at the Salon. He traveled to England to study John Constable, the master of the English landscape, who would profoundly influence his work. In 1832 he stayed in the Berry with Cabat and exhibited four works at the Salon of 1833, where he obtained a second-class medal as a genre painter, and became a friend of the painters Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Constant Troyon, Eugene Lami and Theodore Rousseau. At the Salon of 1835, Eugène Delacroix congratulated him for the cost of his skies. He received many artists like Ary Scheffer and Antoine-Louis Barye.

He traveled to Normandy and Indre where he participated with many other painters at the Crozant School in the valleys of the Creuse. He frequents Barbizon with Rousseau. In 1846 he had an affair with George Sand and tried unsuccessfully to found an independent painting salon without a jury. The attribution of the Legion of Honor quarrels with Rousseau who did not receive it. He settled in L’Isle-Adam and devoted himself to his art.

Hélène Quantinet, who was her pupil and mistress for several years, died in 1857. In 1860, he married Stephanie-Augustine Moreau with whom he already had two children. He usually painted country landscapes with tormented skies, but also series of marines influenced by Gustave Courbet during his summer stays in Cayeux-sur-Mer, sometimes accompanied by Jean-François Millet. In 1881, the State bought him Le Matin and Le Soir for the Luxembourg Museum in Paris.

In 1889 he was promoted to Commander of the Legion of Honor. He died at L’Isle-Adam in 1889. In 1890 his family sold his studio and his collection, which amounted to 208,660 francs.

His relations with Theodore Rousseau, fraternal, romantic, often stormy, almost exclusive at certain times, have given rise to many comments. The reciprocal influence of the two men is one of the keys to the evolution of their works.

Although Vincent van Gogh had probably never met Dupré during his Parisian stays, he showed his whole life a deep admiration for his eldest son and focused on his work with a very acute look. Over a period of fifteen years, some sixty mentions can be identified in the correspondence of van Gogh, most often addressed to his brother Theo. These letters contain enthusiastic descriptions of Dupré’s works. In his eyes, the painter embodies French romanticism and he frequently associates his name with that of Victor Hugo. Speaking of the novel Quatreving-thirteen which he has just read, he writes: “It is painted, I mean: written as Decamps or Jules Dupré have painted […]”.

He had a workshop in 1839 avenue Frochot, then at No. 28 rue Bréda in Paris.

Jules Dupré exhibited at the Salon in 1831. In 1839, he exhibited seven paintings, landscapes of Indre, Correze and Normandy.

He exhibited first at the Salon in 1831, and three years later was awarded a second-class medal. In the same year he came to England, where he was impressed by the genius of Constable. From then on he learned how to express movement in nature; and the districts around Southampton and Plymouth, with its wide, unbroken expanses of water, sky and ground, gave him good opportunities for studying the tempestuous motion of storm-clouds and the movement of foliage driven by the wind. He was named an Officer of the French Légion d’honneur in 1848.