Oil on canvas
Purchased with the participation of the Société des Amis du Musée National Eugène Delacroix, 2000
H. 0,610 m ; L. 0,500 m
Signed bottom left: Eug. Delacroix (the signature is difficult to see)
This painting is part of the series known as Goubaux Pension Portraits, commissioned by Prosper Goubaux (1795-1859), cofounder and director of the Institution Saint-Victor (now the Collège Chaptal). Between 1824 and 1834, Delacroix painted ten portraits of students who had won the school’s overall prize.
The subject of this painting is Auguste-Richard de la Hautière; the work was rediscovered in 1998 and purchased by the museum in 2000; the charming brushwork illustrates a less well-known aspect of Delacroix’s art.
Goubaux and Delacroix knew each other from the Louis-le-Grand lycée. They met again on 1 January 1824, and it was probably after this encounter that Goubaux, who had founded his institution four years earlier, decided to commission portraits of his prizewinning students. Ten portraits were then apparently painted between 1824 and 1834; they were to decorate the reception room. They include the portraits of Abel Widmer (1824, London, National Gallery), Désiré Pellerin (location unknown), Auguste-Richard de la Hautière (1828, Musée Eugène Delacroix), Eugène Berny d’Ouville (1828, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Amédée Berny d’Ouville (1830, Fundaçao Medeiros e Almeida, Portugal), Achille Schmitz (location unknown), Louis Judicis de Mirandol (location unknown), Auguste-Edmond Petit de Beauverger (c. 1832-1833; sale, Christie’s, London, 21 November 1996, n°106, repr.), Heurtaux (location unknown), and Bellinger (Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse).
The Portrait of Auguste-Richard de la Hautière was rediscovered in 1998 and purchased by the Musée Delacroix in 2000 with the support of the Société des Amis du Musée. We know, through information given in 1877 by the model to Alfred Robaut - who was then working on the complete catalogue of Delacroix’s works (published in 1885) - that he had won the school’s second prize in Latin in 1828. La Hautière sent Robaut a small photograph of the painting as a token of his gratitude to the memory of his elderly and revered master "and to Delacroix’s kindness for capturing [his] sad, meager and insignificant figure on canvas."
This quickly sketched portrait is arresting for the young boy’s vivacious features and the warm color of his tousled hair. The youthful figure stands out against a landscape background, a testament to the influence of the English landscape painters who worked alongside Delacroix from 1820 to 1825.
Lee Johnson, The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix. A Critical Catalogue, Volume I, Oxford, 1986, n° 73, pl. 65; Fourth Supplement and Reprint of Third Supplement, Oxford, 2002, p.3, n° 73, repr. 1.
Arlette Sérullaz, « Le portrait d’Auguste-Richard de la Hautière », in Bulletin de la Société des Amis du musée Eugène Delacroix, n°1, janvier 2003, p.6-9, repr. sur la couverture et p.6