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Charles Renoux (1795 - 1846)

Artists painting in the ruins of Château Gaillard near Les Andelys in Normandy

Oil on canvas

Signed lower right

40.8 x 32.5 cm

The 2014 exhibition at the royal monastery of Brou: The invention of the past - Gothic, my love ... brought to light the generation of artists of the so-called "troubadour" current, who contributed at the beginning of the 19th century to the rediscovery of Middle Ages and medieval heritage of France. Charles Caïus Renoux is represented there by two beautiful paintings - a ruined Gothic church and the interior of a chapel - which recall his archaeological specialization, in the same spirit as François Marius Granet, Charles Marie Bouton or Jacques Mandé Daguerre. The many works that this artist exhibited at the Salon between 1822 and 1843 mostly show interiors of churches, monuments and some landscapes. In addition, Renoux collaborates as a draftsman in the "Voyages picturesques et romantiques dans l'ancienne France" of Baron Taylor and Charles Nodier. We find his name in various collections of lithographs, such as the Picturesque Views of the Principal Castles of the Surroundings of Paris and the Departments (1829), of which he is the author with Daguerre and Bouton (see a complete list in La France Romantique, les lithographies of landscapes in the 19th century by Jean Adhémar).


From his debut at the Salon of 1822, Renoux presented a painting entitled: Ruins of the casemates of Château Gaillard, near Les Andelys where Nicolas Poussin was born. With this explanation: "As a result of the persecutions he was experiencing, Nicolas Poussin, forced to leave his homeland, comes to take a last look at the places where he was born."


Our canvas, which can be dated around 1825 by a supplier's mark on the back, is therefore neither a project nor a replica for this historical painting which inaugurates the career of Caïus Renoux. It is a return of the artist to one of the most emblematic places of medieval France, when Normandy begins to be visited by many painters. Renoux also stages his fellow cartoonists-archaeologists, fascinated like him by the fortress of Richard Coeur-de-Lion. But he cheats slightly with reality - which Charles de la Mare's drawings ten years later reveal. It covers an ogival arch in the keep and substitutes a solid wall pierced with a loophole. He takes it easy with the openings in the neighboring curtain wall and makes regular arcades through which the Seine appears, like the views of Rome taken from under an arch in the homes of the students of Valenciennes. At the dawn of romanticism, the poetry of views of Italian ruins is here transposed into old France.

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