Jacques-Antoine Marie LEMOINE (Rouen, 1751 – Paris, 1824)

Portrait of Pierre Paul Royer-Collard (1763 - 1845)

23 x 19 cm. (9 116 x 7 ½ in.)

Black chalk, stump and red chalk highlights
Signed and dated, center right: Lemoine del. 1796

• France, Private Collection.

• Alfred Poussier, Notice biographique sur Lemoine (Jacques-Antoine-Marie) peinture miniaturiste (1751-1824), 1914.
• Neil Jeffares, “ Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine,” Gazette des beaux-arts, vol. 133, no 1561,‎ Feb. 1999, pp. 61-136.
• Charle Christophe, “Royer-Collard (Pierre, Paul),” Les professeurs de la faculté des lettres de Paris – Dictionnaire biographique 1809-1908, Institut national de recherche pédagogique, Paris, 1985. pp. 155-156.

Biographical notices on Jacques-Antoine Marie Lemoine or Le Moyne remain rare. Originally from Rouen, Lemoine seems to have settled in Paris in about the year 1806. His name is mentioned on a list of members of the Society of Emulation [1] as an artist-painter who had frequented the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, “student of M. la Grenée the Younger” [2] and Maurice-Quentin de “La Tour” (1704-1788), from whom he learned to handle pastels. The many drawings signed by his hand which have come down to us show that Jacques-Antoine Marie Lemoine was an excellent draughtsman who “especially devoted himself to the genre of portraits in miniature and large-scale. He did several portraits for the Lecoulteux family of Rouen.” [3]

In a spirit of praise and glorification of illustrious personalities of his time, Lemoine shows the features of Pierre Paul Royer-Collard, an influential political figure and man of letters.
In 1789, Pierre Paul Royer-Collard was an established lawyer in Paris. The same year, he opted for a political career by becoming a member of the Municipal Council of Paris, a position which he would occupy for three years, until an address relating to the voluntary enrollment against the insurrection in the West which he presented in the name of his section at the Convention. He took refuge in Sompuis after the Girondins were crushed. His political career gradually grew in scope until his proud election as a deputy to the Council of Five Hundred in 1797. From that moment, his political life tumbled. His election was annulled the following year after the coup d’état of 18 Fructidor: after having been favorable to the Revolution, Royer-Collard rallied to the constitutional monarchy. In developing close relationships with Louis XVIII’s representatives, he was nominated a member of the royal council which he occupied until 1803. His name doesn’t appear any more until 1814, except in the domain of literature where he gained new recognition. Collard became a Professor of the History of Philosophy at the Faculty of Letters in Paris. The fall of the Empire gave new life to his career and allowed him to become President of the Commission of Public Instruction until 1819. At the same time, he was elected deputy of Marne, a function he would occupy until his death in 1845.

“(…) The Professor can only hope to be of use to his Students by always being at their disposition. It is for them and not for himself that he should hold Class. His purpose being to engrave in their memory the principal deeds in History (…), he should not seek another source of interest beyond the simple exposition of historic deeds and the natural links between them: he should avoid at all costs everything that could draw the Students into the Political sphere and serve as alimentation to discussion of the Parties (…)” [4]

Under Charles X, after a well-filled career, the political persona lost his influence. In 1830 at the age of 67, Royer-Collard was a Knight of the Legion of Honor and an active member of the French Academy to which he had been elected three years earlier. Among his quite diverse fields of action, man of letters that he was, he had striven to reshape instruction and teaching, and thus through several directives in the form of letters, had called for change.

In an oval format contributing to the intimate aspect of the work, Royer-Collard is depicted here bust length and torso slightly turned to the left, while the fully frontal face looks straight at the artist. The sitter is attired in Directory fashions: a wide white collar tied around his neck appears from under his “over jacket” and double-breasted waistcoat with lapels. As an attentive observer, Lemoine captures his sitter’s physical features with great acuity and communicates a tranquil state of mind through his calm gaze. Royer-Collard thus poses serenely for the artist. In fact, it is not unlikely to think that the two men knew each other very well.
An excellent draughtsman, Lemoine’s virtuosity can be seen here in the use of black chalk enhanced by sanguine which highlights the cheeks, lips, and the sitter’s gaze. The artist’s ingeniousness is expressed through the care given to each detail of the composition, from the utilization of stump bringing an effect of gentleness to the whole composition, to the delicate handling of the light illuminating the pure and exact lines of the face, not to mention the treatment of the cleverly messy hair, drawn strand by strand.

The work is dated 1796, the year in which Lemoine realized the portrait of Lord Seymour, which it is interesting to compare to our work for the artist’s subtle manipulation and use of black chalk to play with the light and shade effects on his sitters’ faces. The Portrait of Lord Seymour evokes the artist’s taste for these male portraits for the grand families and aristocracy, such as the Seymours, among others. Other oval format bust portraits in black chalk with similar dimensions to our portrait have come down to us. Some of them were exhibited in the Salon of 1796 in particular, which catalogues five portrait drawings and “several portraits.” The absence of dimensions of physical details about the sitters does not make it possible to determine if our drawing was exhibited that year.

“(…) past misfortunes having deprived him of part of his fortune,
He thought that work itself was the veritable fortune (…)”[5]

Our artist’s homonyms have led to confusion as to his body of unsigned works. Nonetheless, according to the evidence in his daughter’s precious correspondence, it is known that Lemoine acquired a solid reputation as a portraitist which was his claim to fame. During his lifetime, his works were collected in France and abroad: “there are a lot of other works by him in France and at foreign courts.”[6] At the Salon, Lemoine’s work was appreciated for the quality of his “portrait drawings” of citizens, (male and female), artists,(7] and sitters known and unknown to the public which illustrated his sure taste for this genre which he practiced up until his death in 1824.

transl. chr

[1]The “Free Society of Emulation of Commerce and Industry in Seine-Inférieure,” was founded in Rouen in 1792.
[2]M. S. Rocheblave, “Les Artistes Normands à l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, de 1765 à 1789,” Congrès du Millénaire normand (Congress of the Norman Millenial), Vol. II, p. 425.
[3]Letter from Mlle Agathe Lemoine to Juste Hoüel, Corresponding Secretary of the Society of Emulation in Rouen, dated June 7th, 1824, transcribed in Alfred Poussier, Notice biographique sur Lemoine (Jacques-Antoine-Marie) peinture miniaturiste (1751-1824), 1914, p. 5.
[4]Royer-Collard Pierre-Paul. 18. 9 novembre 1818: Lettre de Royer-Collard, président de la Commission de l’Instruction publique, aux proviseurs des collèges royaux parisiens, jointe à l’arrêté du 9 novembre (extraits),” L’histoire et la géographie dans l’enseignement secondaire. Textes officiels, Vol. 1: 1795-1914, Institut national de recherche pédagogique, Paris, 2000. p. 113.
[5] Letter from Mlle Agathe Lemoine to Juste Hoüel, Corresponding Secretary of the Society of Emulation in Rouen, dated June 7th, 1824, op. cit. p. 8.
[6] Ibid.
[7]The Salon of 785 mentions a "Portrait of Mme Lebrun, seated on a rock in a landscape," as well as the one in 1798, "portrait drawings in black chalk of Citizen Fragonard."

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