collections
European

Adolphe Lesrel

France 1839-1929
Cavaliers at Cards 73.0017.5

The mid-nineteenth century was a period in which there was an interest in highly romanticized views of the past. The rise of the historical novel, by authors such as Sir Walter Scott and Alexander Dumas contributed to the public craze for things historical. Artists, too, responded to this interest, creating a new genre (category) of painting using historical recreations sometimes called "set pieces" (arranged groupings with stage scenery). Lesrel's debut occurred six years before the death in 1891 of his idol, France's best known and highest paid painter of historical scenes and "set pieces", Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier. Modeling his career after Meissonier's, Lesrel began exhibiting his work at the Société des Artistes Français in 1885. Like Meissonier, Lesrel was attentive to minute detail, displaying the same highly polished "finish" and the same devotion to period research, color, and textural display. In this painting of French cavaliers in seventeenth-century period costume, he employs one of his favorite devices, focused light, to showcase his virtuosity for depicting the textural qualities of velvet, leather, brass, and wood.

 

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