Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy Trioson (1767-1824)
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Anne Louis Girodet was a French Neoclassical painter, and has been dubbed “The Romantic Rebel” by art critics. He has been hailed as being a very precise and clear artist, and is also remembered for his depictions of the Napoleonic family.
Girodet was born in Montargis, France, and was orphaned at a very young age. He was appointed guardianship by M. Troison, and later took her name in 1812. As a young artist, he studied under Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David and was deemed one of his most gifted students at the age of 18. Girodet’s painting “Joseph Recognized by His Brothers” won the artist the Prix de Rome in 1789, which allowed him to study in Italy for five years. While living in Italy, Girodet became exposed to and highly influenced by Leondardo da Vinci and Correggio.
In 1793 while he was still in Italy, Girodet barely escaped with his life when the French Academy in Rome was attacked by locals. At this time, he was forced to flee Rome and ended up working in Naples, and later Genoa and Florence. Girodet returned to France in 1795, and upon his return, resumed his career as a portrait painter. His patrons included a number of notable French figures, as well as members of the Napoleon family.
Girodet was named a member of the Légion d’Honneur in 1808, however, one of Girodet’s most important contributions to art history is his subtle, yet breathtaking transitions from the Neoclassical style to Romanticism. This transition happened over decades as Girodet’s style evolved, and is evident as early as 1793 with his painting “Hippocrates Refusing the Gifts of Artaxerxes” and was nearly complete in his 1808 painting “The Burial of Atala.” This evolution of style brought harsh criticism on Girodet by his master, Jacques-Louis David due to the fact that he abandoned his traditional teachings for more Romantic themes.
Despite the fact that Girodet more or less abandoned his initial teachings, his work remained consistently precise, rich and beautiful. Like all typical Romantic pieces, Girodet’s compositions generally feature mythological figures in dramatic situations, bathed in warm light and posed languidly in beautiful settings.
Girodet inherited a large sum of money in 1812, and as a result of his new fortune, painted much less. He spent the rest of his days dedicating himself to creating book illustrations, writing poems and translating works from Greek and Roman authors. It is said that Girodet produced a vast quantity of sketches and illustrations, many of which were later engraved by M. Chatillon.
After Girodet’s death in 1824, many of his pieces were sold and some of his drawings commanded high prices, even in the early 19th century. In 2006, the Art Institute of Chicago displayed the first retrospective of his works in The United States, including 60 paintings and nearly 40 drawings.
Today, his paintings and drawings are housed all over the world, and perhaps in your own home. Still wondering about a French Romantic-style painting in your family estate? Contact us…it could be by Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson.