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Vigée Le Brun’s petitioners

7 January 2017

vlb-sigsIn these days where immigration is a hot topic, let us turn our minds back to a world where the focus was emigration. Everyone reading this post will be well aware that Mme Vigée Le Brun left France during the Revolution and spent many years in exile. Attentive students of her life will be aware that, in the early part of 1799, her husband (who had remained in Paris) organised a petition signed by 255 luminaries in the arts, letters and sciences which was presented to the Directoire to have her name removed from the list of émigrés (whose assets were forfeit). This ultimately paved the way for her return to Paris, although soon after her return she resumed her travels. That is a story which has been told repeatedly, and you can find excellent accounts for example in Geneviève Haroche-Bouzinac’s recent biography.

But little attention has been devoted to the signatories of that petition, which is now easily accessible from the Archives nationales. For on receipt of the petition (stamped 8 Thermidor an VII, i.e. 26 July 1799), the Directoire remitted the document and its supporting material to the police, where the file (of 136 pages) still remains (cote F/7/5651/9: demandes de radiation de la liste d’émigrés et de main-levée de séquestre). After an initial request (10 brumaire an II, i.e. 31 October 1793), which got nowhere, Le Brun waited until the climate was more propitious, and this time assembled a formidable dossier to support his application, carefully identifying a loophole in the regulations which permitted artists to travel (Art. Ier (VI), 2° Décret de l’Assemblée nationale, 30 mars–8 avril 1792, no. 1615 exempts “ceux qui ont été notoirement connus avant leur depart, pour s’être consacrés à ces études [des sciences, arts ou métiers], et ne s’être absente que pour acquérir de nouvelles connaissances dans leur état”).

The list of signatories of this 1799 petition itself is a fascinating document for a number of reasons. Apart from anything else it has the autograph signatures of a number of artists (see detail above), some famous (Fragonard, Greuze, Houdon, Pajou, Boze, Ducreux, Duplessis etc.), others quite obscure, specimens that can provide art historians with useful comparisons (e.g. to distinguish works signed by homonyms). But there will be far greater social interest in seeing who did sign – and who did not. While of course some artists may not have been in Paris at the time (Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine, for example, had just been appointed to the école de marine, and was probably not present), others – most notably Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, and her famous group of female pupils (of whom Gabrielle Capet was the most talented) – may have chosen not to, either because they did not approve of Vigée Le Brun’s conduct, or because they judged the climate still too dangerous for open support. To gauge the latter however one need only take account of the presence of Vincent, Vien and – most surprisingly to those who reduce political complexities to caricature – David.

The broad parameters of a demographic analysis are easily summarised. Of the 255 signatories, 123 are painters, 28 sculptors and 31 engravers. (The painters comprise all genres, including portraitists, miniaturists etc.) Perhaps the surprising thing is the numbers of architects (32). There are 27 writers, 7 musicians and 11 scientists. Of these signatories, 37 were identified as members of the Institut. Astonishingly only seven of the signatories (under 3%) seem to have been female: I leave it to readers to debate the reasons for this (statistically however it cannot be explained by the general suppression of women artists: nearly a fifth of pastellists were female).

Helpfully Le Brun himself provided a list of signatories and their qualities, which I transcribe below. The original spelling is preserved (including inconsistent attempts at “Institut national” etc.), although capitalisation is often indeterminate; only the contraction Ptre has been spelt out, as “pintre”, since this is the spelling Le Brun employed when he wrote it out in full. There is little need for a gloss, as the identities of all but a few will be readily determined by consulting standard reference books (a good many of them even find entries in the Dictionary of pastellists).

Postscript, 9 January 2017

Nevertheless I have now posted a fully annotated list (that is the version of record, and may be cited as Neil Jeffares, “Vigée Le Brun’s petitioners”, Pastels & pastellists,

PPS: As helpfully signalled in Joseph Baillio’s 1982 Kimbell exhibition catalogue, pages of the document including the signatures (but not Le Brun’s list) are reproduced is reproduced in a surprising publication: André Girodie’s Un peintre de fêtes galantes: Jean-Frédéric Schall (Strasbourg, 1927), which is however no longer in print and not available online.

Allais                                    architecte

Andrieux                              (des 500) homme de lettres

Anselin                                 graveur

Ansiaux                                pintre d’histoir

Antoine                                architecte de la monoye

Arnault                                 homme de lettres

Aubry                                   pintre de portrait

Audouin (P.)                        graveur, municipal

Augustin                               pintre en miniature

Auzou                                  pintre en miniature

Bachelier                              pintre d’histoir, directeur de lecolle Central

Balhard                                 pintre et architecte

Barbier (de Nimes)              pintre d’histoir

Bazin                                    pintre de portrait

Beauvallet                             sculpteur, et ad. du departement de la Seine

Beaujouan                            architecte

Bellanger                              architecte

Belle                                     pintre d’histoir

Belle (fils)                             pintre d’histoir

Belin                                     pintre de portrait

Bellier                                   pintre de portrait

Berjon                                  pintre en miniature

Bertin                                   pintre de paysages

Berthelemy                           pintre d’histoir, commissaire des monuments des arts en Italie

Bervic                                   graveur

Bidault                                  pintre de paysages

Bienaime                              architecte

Blot                                      graveur

Boilly                                    pintre de genre

Bonvoisin                             pintre d’histoir

Bonnemaison                       pintre d’histoir

Bounieu                                pintre d’histoir

Bourgois                               pintre de genre

Boquet                                 pintre d’histoir

Boquet (jeune)                     sculpteur

Bouché                                 pintre d’histoir, pentionair de La republic

Boizot                                  sculpteur

Bouton                                 pintre en miniature

Bouillard (Citoyenne)          pintre d’histoir

Bouiliard                              graveur

Boze                                     pintre de portrait

Bréa                                      pintre en miniature et en emaille

Bridan                                  sculpteur

Brun                                     pintre de genre

Brongniart                            architecte

Cailhava                               homme de lettres de linstitu natiaunal

Callet                                    pintre d’histoir

Callamar                               sculpteur

Cazin                                    pintre de marine

Cellerier                               architecte

Chalgrin                               architete de linstitu natiaunal

Charles                                 phisitien de linstitu natiaunal

Chatillon                              pintre en miniature

Chaudet                               sculpteur

Chaudet (Citoyenne)            pintre de portrait

Chenier                                des 500 homme de lettres de listutu natonal

Chenard                               musitien du theatre &

Choffard                              graveur

Colson                                  pintre de portrait

Collin d’harville                   homme de lettres

Courteille                             graveur

Courteille                             pintre d’histoir

Cozette                                 pintre chef de la manufacture des tapissery des Goblin

Cozette fils                           pintre

Cuvuvier                              anatomiste de linstitu natiaunal

Dardel                                  sculpteur administrateur du museum de versailles

Davide                                 pintre d’histoir de linstitu natiaunal

Davide Le Roy                     architecte de linstitu natiaunal

Daudet                                 graveur

DeJoux                                 sculpteur de linstitu natiaunal

Delaitre                                sculpteur

Delafontaine                        pintre d’architecture

Demachy                              pintre idem

De Marne                             pintre de paysages et genre

Desmarteau                          graveur

Desrais                                 pintre desinateur

Devouges                             pintre d’histoir

Devouges (jeune)                 pintre de portrait

Domergue                            homme de lettres de linstitu natiaunal

Dorgez                                 graveur

Drabot                                 pintre

Drolling                               pintre de genre

DuBourg                              pintre

DuCis                                   homme de lettres de linstitu national

DuCreux                              pintre de portrait

Dufrenoy                             femme de lettres

Dumont                               sculpteur

Dumont                               sculpteur

Dumont                               pintre en miniature

Dunouy                                pintre de paysages

Duplessis                              pintre de portraits du museum de Versailles

Dupré                                   graveur de la monoy

Dupréel                                 architecte

Duval                                   architecte

Duvivier                               graveur des medailles

Espercieux                           sculpteur

Fajas                                     naturaliste de Linstitu natiaunal

Fessard                                 graveur

Fontaine                               architecte

Foucou                                 sculpteur

Fragonard                            pintre d’histoir du muse Central des arts

Fragonard (fils)                      pintre d’histoir

François de Neuf Chateau   homme de lettres de linsitu national

Fourcroy                              chimiste de linstitut natiaunal

Garnier                                 pintre d’histoir

Garnier                                 pintre de genre

Gaucher                               graveur

Gerard                                  pintre d’histoir

Gerard (Citoyenne)              pintre de genre

Girodet                                pintre d’histoir

Giraud                                  sculpteur

Giblin                                   pintre d’histoir du muse de Versailles correspondant de Linstitu national

Gilbert                                 architecte

Ginguené                             homme de lettres de linstitu national

Glot                                      graveur

Godefroi                              graveur

Gois                                     sculpteur

Gois (fils)                             sculpteur pintre de la republic

Gossec                                 musitien du conservatoire de musique, de linstitu national

Gounod                               pintre d’histoir

Greuze                                 pintre

Guillaumont                         architecte administrateur de la manufacture de tapisserie des goblin

Houel                                   pintre et graveur

Houdon                               sculpteur de Linstitu national

Hüe                                      pintre des ports de la republic

Huvé                                    architecte administrateur du muse de lecolle special a Versailles

Jallier                                    architecte

Imbert delonne                    anatomiste inspecteur general du service de santé

Jollain                                   pintre du muse Central des arts

Isabey                                   pintre en miniature

Julien                                    sculpteur, de linstitu national

La Cepede                            naturaliste de Linstitu national

Lafontaine                            pintre d’histoir

Lafontaine                            architecte

Lamarque                             naturaliste de linstitu natiaunal

Le Mercier                           homme de lettres

Le Monier                            pintre d’histoir

Landon                                 pintre d’histoir pentionair de la republic

Laneuville                            pintre de portrait

Langlois                               graveur

Laurent                                 graveur

Lavallee                                homme de lettres

La Grenné                            pintre d’histoir

La Grenné le Jeune              pintre d’histoir

Le Barbier L’ainé                 pintre d’histoir

Le Brun                                homme de lettres de linstitu national

Le Brun                                pintre en miniature

Le Cler                                 pintre electeur de l’an 7

Le Comte                             sculpteur

Le Doux                               architecte

Le Grand                              architecte

Le Guay                               pintre en email et mini

Le Gouvé                             homme de lettres de linstitu national

Le Thier                               pintre d’histoir

Le Sueur                               musitien du conservatoir de musique

Lorta                                    sculpteur

Louis                                    architecte

Malet                                    pintre de genre

Martiny                                musicitien du conservatoir de musique

Martin                                  pintre d’histoir

Marschal                               pintre de genre

Masquelier                            graveur

Massard                                graveur

Massard (fils)                       graveur

Méhul                                   musitien du conservatoir de musique

Mercier                                 homme de lettres de Linstitu national

Merimée                               pintre distoir

Meynier                                pintre d’histoir

Merckelin                             mecanitien de linstitu natiaunal

Miger                                    graveur

Millin                                   homme de lettres conservateur de la bibliotheque natio et de linstitu national

Milo (Citoyenne)                  sculpteur

Moitte                                  sculpteur de linstitu natiaunal commaissaire des monuments des arts en Italie

Moitte                                  architecte

Molinos                                architecte

Monot                                  sculpteur

Mongez                                antiquaire de linstitu natiaunal

Moreau                                 graveur de lecol special

Morel                                   homme de lettres

Monsiau                               pintre d’histoir

Monvelle                              homme de lettres de linstitu national

Monvelle (fils)                      homme de lettres

Naigion                                pintre d’histoir

Naudon                                pintre de paysages

Née                                      graveur

Névéu                                  pintre d’histoir de lecol politequenic

Palisot                                  homme de lettres

Parmentier                           de linstitu national

Parny                                    homme de lettres

Pajoux                                  sculpteur de linstitu natiaunal

Pajoux (fils)                          pintre d’histoir

Perrin                                   pintre d’histoir

Percier                                  architecte

Peyre                                    architecte de linstitut natiaunal

Peyre (neveu)                       architecte

Peyron                                  pintre d’histoir

Pipelet                                  femme de lettres

Petitot                                  sculpteur

Prevost                                 pintre de fleurs

Prevost                                 graveur

Prud’hon                              pintre d’hstoir

Portal                                   anataomiste de linstitut natiaunal

Poyet                                    architecte

Ramey                                  sculpteur

Raymond                              architecte de linstutu national

Redoutté                              pintre d’histoir

Regnaul                                pintre d’histoir de Linstitu natiaunal

Renou                                  pintre d’histoir

Robert                                  pintre de genre du muse Central des arts

Robin                                   pintre d’histoir

Roederer                              homme de lettres de Linstitu natiaunal

Roeser                                  pintre de paysages

Romany (Citoyenne)            pintre de portrait

Rode                                    violon

Rousseau                              architecte

Rousseau de la Roithier       sculpteur

Sablet                                   pintre de genre

Sarrette                                 commissaire du Gouvernement pres le Conservatoir de musique

Schall                                    pintre de genre

Senave                                  pintre de genre

Sergent                                 graveur et conventional

Serangeli                               pintre d’histoir

Sicardi                                  pintre en miniature

Silvain Marechal                   homme de lettres

Simon                                   pintre en miniature

Simon                                   graveur sur pierre fines

St Aubain                             graveur

St Martin                              pintre de paysages

Solie                                     musitien compositeur du theatres &

Spaendonck (Corneill van)  pintre de fleur

Spaendonck (van)                pintre de fleur de linstitu natiaunal

Stouf                                    sculpteur

Suvee                                    pintre d’histoir du muse Central des arts

Swagert                                pintre de paysages

Taillasson                             pintre d’histoir homme de lettres

Tardieu                                 graveur

Taunay                                 pintre de genre de linstitu natiaunal

Taurel                                   pintre de marine

Tibault                                  architecte et pintre

Tinet                                   pintre du museum de Versailles Commissaire des monuments des arts en Italie

Tourcaty                               graveur

Touzé                                   pintre d’histoir

Valenciennes                        pintre de paysages

Valmont Bomare                 naturaliste de linstitu natiaunal

Vallayer Coster (Citoyenne) pintre de genre

Vanderburg                          pintre de paysages

Vandael                                pintre de fleurs

Vangorp                               pintre de genre

Vernet (Carle)                      pintre d’histoir

Verniquet                             architecte

Vestier                                  pintre de portrait

Vien                                     pintre d’histoir de linstitu natiaunal et du muse central des arts

Vigée                                    homme de lettres

Vincent                                pintre d’histoir de Linstitu national

Villar                                    homme de lettres de Linsitut national et conventiaunel

From → Art history

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