Portrait of Louis Vignes in uniform of the Naval School
FAUX, Amélie

Portrait of Louis Vignes in uniform of the Naval School

Size : 70 x 51 cm
Color : Original colors
Condition : A+
Technique : Pastel

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Old label on the back: "Louis Vignes (since Vice-Admiral) born June 8, 1831 in Bordeaux - son of Alexandre Raymond (1798-1865) and Elizabeth Odilie Delbos (1805-1852). - pastel by cousin Amélie Faux in Béchon [?] in 1846" (in French). Modern label at the bottom on the back.

Provenance : famille du modèle et de l’artiste par descendance.

Dated 1846, the year of his admission to the Naval School, this representation of Louis Vignes shows him proudly wearing the uniform of this prestigious institution. This mischievous young man, son of the director of the Mint in Bordeaux, led a brilliant military career in the navy by obtaining the rank of admiral. Calotypist of the first hour, Louis Vignes realized fifty-two paper negatives, between June 1859 and October 1862, in Morocco, in Sicily, in Beirut and in Lebanon [1]. The photographer is also a close friend of the Duke of Luynes (1802-1867), he accompanies the latter in an archaeological trip from Beirut to Palmyra, through Djerach and various other archaeological sites [2]. The National Library of France preserves an important set of its photographs which come to immortalize the multiple peregrinations of this French soldier in the East.

Cousin of the model, Amélie Faux is the pastellist who executed this juvenile portrait of Louis Vignes. Two years prior to the realization of this work, she participated in the sixth exhibition of the products of arts and industry of Bordeaux in 1844. The general report of the event mentions that "The portraits exposed by Miss Faux reveal happy dispositions for a genre, whose charm does not exclude the difficulty"[3]. On the occasion of this event, she was also awarded a bronze medal. In 1845, Amélie Faux made a pastel portrait of Jacques Delbos from an oil on canvas dating from 1774 [4]. On a similar model, she also depicted Jean-Baptiste Delbos after a painting of 1775. The patron of these copies, Sylvestre Delbos, seems to have been very satisfied with his commission from the artist. In a handwritten note [5] behind one of the frames, he tells his "kind and dear cousin" that to prove his contentment, he is "sending two more portraits to be copied and framed like the last one" [6].

In this vibrant and lively pastel, Amelie Faux realizes a moving portrait and a great psychological accuracy of her young cousin, Louis Vignes. Being inspired willingly by the art of the XVIIIth century, she resumes certain codes which she appropriates and puts at the service of the models of her time. Work of a woman artist, this pastel is, not only a graphic memory of first hand on Louis Vignes, but also a testimony on the knowledge and the use of the art of the XVIIIe century throughout the following century [7].

[1] See Sylvie Aubenas, « Louis Vignes », exposition virtuelle de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, . URL : http://expositions.bnf.fr/veo/photographes/ssindex08.htm
[2] Le voyage du duc de Luynes : photographies de Louis Vignes : voyage d'exploration à la Mer morte, à Petra et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain, février-juin 1864, Paris, Galerie Octant, 6 mars 1980 – 13 mai 1980. Commissariat : Alain Paviot, Paris, Galerie Octant, 1980, 22 p.
[3] Société Philomathique de Bordeaux (dir.), Sixième Exposition, année 1844. Exposition des produits des arts et de l'industrie, instituée par la Société philomathique, Bordeaux, Henry Faye, 1845, p. 122 et 133. The book also specifies that she is domiciled in "Bordeaux, quai Bacalan, 7".
[4] See Émile Bodin, Histoire du Virou : le monastère, le domaine, la famille Delbos, Blaye, Impr. de Brunette et Simon, 1906, 46 p.
[5] Dated 23rd June 1845 in Bordeaux.
[6] Émile Bodin, Histoire du Virou : le monastère, le domaine, la famille Delbos, Blaye, Impr. de Brunette et Simon, 1906, p. 42-43.
[7] See Christoph Vogtherr (eds.), Monica Preti (eds.) et Guillaume Faroult (eds.), Delicious decadence : the rediscovery of French eighteenth-century painting in the nineteenth century, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, 186 p.

FAUX, Amélie