Etienne-Joseph Bouhot

Etienne-Joseph Bouhot (Bard-les-Époisses 1780 - 1862 Semur-en-Auxois)

Pendants: Two Views of the Ruined Chapel at the Château de Bard, Burgundy, 1826 and 1827

Oil on canvas, 40.5 x 33.2 cm each
Signed and dated lower right Bouhot / 1827 (left image) and at centre right Bouhot / 1826 (right image)
Inscribed on the verso Chapelle du / Château de Bard
With the canvas mark Au /Gente des Arts/...Rue du Colombier/No. 30
Inscribed on the stretcher by another hand Chapelle de Chateau / de Bard Côte d'Or / ou est né Victor de Lanneau

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Étienne-Joseph Bouhot began his artistic training in Dijon and moved to Paris in 1801 to continue his studies. He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1808 with La Place Vendôme[1] and rapidly earned recognition as a painter of topographical views of Paris. The majority of these views are today in the collection of the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. They are remarkable for extreme attention to detail, perspectival accuracy and precise handling of the effects of light.

Bouhot is a true Restauration painter in that a great many of his works focus on historic monuments and on France before the Revolution - a France his chiefly aristocratic patrons so strongly identified with.[2] His important body of work also comprises landscapes and panoramas, intérieurs and genre paintings. In 1822-3 the monuments and landscapes of his native Burgundy were to be a major focus of attention.[3] Many of these works are now held at the Musée de Semur-en-Auxois, where Bouhot was appointed Director in 1834. His estate with its many sketchbooks passed to the Museum.

The present two views depict the ruins of the castle chapel at the village of Bard-lès-Époisses. The village lies some fifteen kilometres northwest of Bouhot's birthplace, Semur-en-Auxois. The views were commissioned by a friend, Victor de Lanneau (1758-1830), whose family owned the castle. Bouhot had already painted an overall view of the castle for de Lanneau in 1824.[4] They had first met some years earlier when Bouhot painted a view of the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris for de Lanneau. De Lanneau was the school's director and one of France's best-known educational reformers of the age.[5]

The two paintings are complementary views of the Gothic architecture of the chapel. The chapel itself was originally a double-naved hall structure with four bays with quadripartite rib vaulting. Two vaulted ceilings, supported by a column, are still intact. The relationship between the size of the figures - probably the artist and his patron[6] - and the architecture emphasizes the building's scale and former monumentality. Lying in the left foreground of the 1827 painting is a plaque commemorating Victor de Lanneau's ancestor Henri de Lanneau,[7] while a heraldic coat-of-arms[8] depicted in the 1826 painting points to the distinguished family history of Bouhot's patron. Whether the Château de Bard and its chapel were damaged during the Revolution to the degree depicted in the two views is probable, but nothing is documented about it. Today, the Château has completely disappeared.

We would like to thank Sandrine Balan at the Musée des beaux-arts de Dijon and Alexandra Bouillot-Chartier, Musée municipal de Semur-en-Auxois,for their valuable assistance in compiling this catalogue entry.


[1] Oil on canvas, 81 x 99 cm, Musée Carnavalet, Paris.

[2] Gothic cathedrals such as Reims, in which the kings of France were crowned.

[3] See Sandrine Balan (ed.), Étienne Bouhot. 1780-1862, exhib. cat., Musée de Semur-en-Auxois 2001, p.43f and p.116 for an overview of the recorded works.

[4] Bouhot's accounts list three views of Bard-lès-Époisses executed for Victor de Lanneau (information kindly provided by Mme. Sandrine Balan, Musée des beaux-arts de Dijon).

[5] Oil on canvas, 41 x 32.5 cm, see Balan, op. cit., p.48, no. 22, note 38, and p.108. Lanneau was able to acquire the Collège Sainte-Barbe in 1797, eventually setting up a secondary school there. During the Revolution many of the school's buildings had been confiscated. Owned by the University of Paris, it is one of the few academic institutions in Paris still in use and at the same site.

[6] Bouhot visited Bard-lès-Époisses in 1823 as a guest of de Lanneau (see Balan, op. cit., p.44).

[7] Henri de Lanneau/1525 [?] /Virtutis Bellicae /Praemium. Of German origin, the family settled in France in the early sixteenth century. Henri de Lanneau achieved military distinction serving under the Dukes of Burgundy in 1569 and 1589. See Marcel Dorigny, ‘Victor Lanneau, prêtre, Jacobin et fondateur du Collège des Sciences et des Arts (1758-1830)', in Annales historiques de la Révolution française, CCLXXIV, 1988. See also Le Morvan révolutionnaire. Recherches sur les origines des traditions politiques en Morvan (XVIIIe et XIXe siècle), pp.347-65.

[8] Coat-of-arms of the de Lanneau family (see Morena, item 21072): d'azur à un barbeau d'argent posé en fasce, au chef aussi d'azur chargé de 3 besans d'or.

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