Allégorie au « nouveau monde »
Philippe Chaperon was born in Paris on 2 February 1823. His father was an employee at the Paris savings bank, and his family did not predispose him to an artistic career. He studied at the Collège Bonaparte, then studied architecture with the architect Calais. He entered the studio of the painter Riesener and devoted himself to easel painting. He exhibited several times at the Salon. He then turned to theatrical decoration where he was in contact with the theatre decorators Domenico Ferri (1797-1869) and Pierre Luc Charles Ciceri (1782- 1868). The latter was chief decorator of the Opera and is the father of the painter Eugéne Ciceri.
In 1847 he went to Spain where he stayed for two years. From this period he brought back a number of drawings. Around 1851 he joined Ciceri's studio which had been taken over by his sons-in-law François Joseph Nolau (1804-1883) and Auguste Rubé (1815-1899). In 1864 he joined Rubé under the name Rubé et Chaperon. Their collaboration lasted about thirty years. Around 1894 his son Émile (1868-1946) came to work with him. In 1895 Rubé left Chaperon to join forces with his grandson Marcel Moisson. It is from this date that we see the names of the father and the son associated. Philippe Chaperon had another son, Eugène (1857-1938), who was a military painter and illustrator. Like Jean Camille Formigé and Juste Lisch, Philippe Chaperon had children who succeeded him.
Chaperon worked for the Comédie Française, the Chatelet, projects or achievements for theatres such as Angers, Lorient, Saint-Quentin. He also worked on the design of theatres in Belgium, in Brussels, Théâtre de la Monnaie, Théâtre des Galeries Saint-Hubert, in Antwerp at the Théâtre Royal... The library of the Opéra conserves a very important collection of sets and models following donations from the family (1902). He worked for the Opéra de Paris, the Théâtre Lyrique, the Opéra Comique, the Théâtre Français, the Chatelet and many others in France and Belgium. He also executed projects for historical buildings as well as for private commissions. The Musée d'Orsay has a number of models on permanent display. There is no exhibition on 19th century opera where Chaperon's name, drawings or models do not appear. He was one of the greatest decorators of his time.