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Ary Scheffer

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Dutch-born painter and lithographer who spent virtually all his career in Paris and became a French citizen in 1850. His work was immensely popular in his lifetime, but is now generally considered sentimental. Early in his career he favoured literary themes (Francesca da Rimini, 1835, Wallace Coll., London, and other versions), but later he turned to mawkishly treated religious subjects (St Augustine and St Monica, 1854, NG, London, and other versions).

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Ary Scheffer (10 February 1795 – 15 June 1858) was a Dutch-French Romantic painter. He was known mostly for his works based on literature, with paintings based on the works of Dante, Goethe, and Lord Byron, as well as religious subjects. He was also a prolific painter of portraits of famous and influential people in his lifetime. Politically, Scheffer had strong ties to King Louis Philippe I, having been employed as a teacher of the latter's children, which allowed him to live a life of luxury for many years until the French Revolution of 1848.

Scheffer was the son of Johan Bernard Scheffer (1765–1809), a portrait painter born in Homberg upon Ohm or Kassel who had moved to the Netherlands in his youth, and Cornelia Lamme (1769–1839), a portrait miniature painter and daughter of the Dordrecht landscape painter Arie Lamme, after whom Arij (later Ary) was named. He had two brothers, the journalist and writer Karel Arnold Scheffer (1796–1853) and the painter Hendrik Scheffer (1798–1862). He was taught by his parents and attended the Amsterdam drawing academy from the age of 11. In 1808 his father became court painter of Louis Bonaparte in Amsterdam, but he died a year later. Encouraged by Willem Bilderdijk, he moved to Lille for further study after the death of his father. In 1811 he and his mother, who had a large influence on his career, moved to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. His brothers followed them later.

Scheffer started exhibiting at the Salon de Paris from 1812 on. He started to become recognized in 1817 and in 1819 he was asked to make a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette. Perhaps because of Lafayette's contacts, Scheffer and his brothers were politically active throughout their lives and he became a prominent Philhellene.

In 1822, he became drawing teacher to the children of Louis-Philippe, the Duke of Orléans. Thanks to his connections with them, he was able to obtain many commissions for portraiture and other work. In 1830, riots against the rule of King Charles X resulted in his overthrow. On 30 July, Scheffer and influential journalist Adolphe Thiers personally rode from Paris to Orléans to ask Louis-Philippe to lead the resistance, and a few days later, he became "King of the French".

That same year, Scheffer had a daughter Cornelia. He registered the name of her mother as Maria Johanna de Nes, but nothing is known about her and she may have died soon after Cornelia's birth. Considering that his own grandmother's name was Johanna de Nes, it has been speculated that he kept Cornelia's mother's name a secret not to compromise a noble family's reputation. Cornelia Scheffer (1830–1899) became a sculptor and painter in her own right. Scheffer's mother did not know of her namesake granddaughter until 1837, after which she took care of her until she died only two years later. Scheffer became associate member of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands in 1846, and resigned in 1851.

This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here →


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Ary Scheffer Artworks
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