Meissonier’s Portrait of the Sergeant

In his 1914 biography, Frederic Cooper describes Portrait of a Sergeant by Jean-Louis Meissonier (1815-1891). 
Meissonier, Portrait of a Sergeant, 1874, Kunsthalle Hamburg
Height: 73 cm (28.7 in). Width: 62 cm (24.4 in).

“What a magnificent collection of different degrees of attention: that of the portrait painter as he studies his model standing in front of him on the pavement, in his finest uniform and his finest pose,”

“that of the model intent only upon doing nothing to disturb his ultra-martial bearing, his gaze menacing, staring, fixed…

“…that of the spectators, some of them drawing near, fascinated, another who casts an amused glance at the picture as he passes by, with some sarcastic remark on his lips; another who no doubt has just been looking, and for the moment, with pipe between his teeth, is thinking of something else as he sits on a bench with his back to the wall and his legs extended in front of him.”

“Meissonier rediscovered the decent folk of that period, which was not made up exclusively of mighty lords and fallen women, and of which we get, through Chardin, a glimpse on its honest, settled bourgeois side.”

“Meissonier introduces us into modest interiors, with woodwork of sober gray, furniture without gilding, the homes of worthy folk, simple and substantial, who read and smoke and work, look over prints and etchings, or copy them, or chat sociably, with elbows on table, separated only by a bottle brought out from behind the faggots.”
Jean-Louis Meissonier, 1914, free online book by Frederic Cooper
Jean-Louis Meissonier on Wikipedia
Portrait of the Sergeant on Wikipedia Commons

By: Gurney Journey
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

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