Schérefnisah et Goulbédenn, à Téhéran, les filles de ma voisine
Jules Laurens (1825-1901), Schérefnisah and Goulbédenn, in Tehran, the daughters of my neighbor. Pencil and watercolor, 22.2 x 29.5 cm, pasted on a 37.5 x 53 cm sheet.
Handwritten inscription at the bottom: "Schérefnisah et Goulbédenn, à Téhéran, les filles de ma voisine".
Bibliography : unpublished.
In this unpublished sheet, Jules Laurens represents two children, one seated and the other standing, met during his trip to Tehran. Born in Carpentras in 1825, Jules Laurens studied at the Beaux-Arts of Montpellier alongside Alexandre Cabanel, before moving to Paris to train in the studio of Paul Delaroche. A few years later, he met Xavier Hommaire de Hell, a geographer, whose work was rewarded by a prize from the Geography Society. Also elected member of the Academy of Sciences, the man of letters also obtained the Legion of Honor in 1845. The geographer-artist tandem aroused the interest of Count de Salvandy, Minister of Public Instruction, who offered to publicly finance their research in order to investigate the hypothesis of an ancient sea that united the Black, Aral and Caspian Seas. At a time when the France of Louis-Philippe seeks to deepen its diplomatic relations with Persia, this project of voyage is also accompanied by political, economic and scientific objectives.
Xavier Hommaire de Hell was thus sent by the government on a scientific mission around the seas of Asia Minor and in Persia. Accompanied by Jules Laurens, the two men left France in May 1846, and successively crossed Italy, Moldavia, Anatolia, Armenia, Pontus, Kurdistan and Mesopotamia before finally arriving in Persia in November 1847. The team formed for this expedition took advantage of it to gather numerous geographical, geological, paleontological and archaeological information. Hommaire de Hell and his comrades reached Tehran in February 1848 where they were received by the French ambassador who introduced them to Shah Mohammad Qadjar. After several expeditions in the various Iranian provinces, Hommaire de Hell, struck down by fever, died on August 29, 1848. His death marked the end of this expedition whose most convincing result was the publication, from 1854, of the Voyage en Turquie et en Perse executed by order of the French government during the years 1846, 1847 and 1848.
This expedition also allowed Jules Laurens to produce several hundred sketches, drawings and watercolors during it. In this unpublished composition, the artist depicts with gentleness and refinement the two children of his neighbor in Tehran. The artist shows great meticulousness in the rendering of the fabrics but also the attitudes and postures of the two children.
His return to France brings Jules a renewed artistic legitimacy and a real consecration. With his experience as a painter-traveler, Jules Laurens participated in the illustration of several books, he also published numerous articles and regularly exhibited his paintings at the Salon. He became a jury member of the Salon and was awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1868. In 1892, Jules Laurens bequeathed an important collection of about a hundred drawings to the Library of the École nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The majority of the works donated by the artist to this institution are sheets made during his trip to the Orient. A talented draughtsman, he is considered one of the leading artists in the representation of the Middle East in the 19th century.