Ary Scheffer

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Ary Scheffer
Ary Scheffer selfportrait.jpg
Self-portrait by Scheffer
Born(1795-02-10)10 February 1795
Died15 June 1858(1858-06-15) (aged 63)
NationalityDutch, French
Known for Painting
Movement Romanticism

Ary Scheffer (10 February 1795 15 June 1858) was a Dutch-French Romantic painter. [1] 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.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

Dante Alighieri Italian poet

Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri, commonly known by his name of art Dante Alighieri or simply as Dante, was an Italian poet during the Late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th/19th-century German writer, artist, and politician

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His works include four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him have survived.



Statue of Scheffer on the Scheffersplein in Dordrecht, made by Joseph Mezzara after a design by Scheffer's daughter, Cornelia. Dordrecht beeld Scheffer2-1.jpg
Statue of Scheffer on the Scheffersplein in Dordrecht, made by Joseph Mezzara after a design by Scheffer's daughter, Cornelia.
Scheffer's house in Paris, France, now the Musee de la Vie romantique (Museum of Romantic Life). Musee Vie romantique.jpg
Scheffer's house in Paris, France, now the Musée de la Vie romantique (Museum of Romantic Life).

Scheffer was the son of Johan Bernard Scheffer (1765–1809), a portrait painter who was born in Homberg upon Ohm or Kassel (both presently in Germany) and moved to The Netherlands in his youth, and Cornelia Lamme (1769–1839), a portrait miniature painter and daughter of landscape painter Arie Lamme of Dordrecht, for whom Arij (later "Ary") was named. Ary Scheffer had two brothers, the journalist and writer Karel Arnold Scheffer (1796–1853) and the painter Hendrik Scheffer (1798–1862). His parents educated him and he attended the drawing academy in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from the age of 11 years. In 1808 his father became the court painter of Louis Bonaparte in Amsterdam, yet his father died one year later. Encouraged by Willem Bilderdijk, Ary moved to Lille, France for further study after the death of his father. In 1811 he and his mother, who greatly influenced his career, moved to Paris, France, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. His brothers followed them to Paris later. [2]

Johan Bernard Scheffer painter from Germany

Johann or Johan Bernard Scheffer, was a German-born painter and etcher active in the Netherlands and the father of the painter Ary Scheffer.

Homberg (Ohm) Place in Hesse, Germany

Homberg (Ohm) is a town in the Vogelsbergkreis in Hesse, Germany.

Kassel Place in Hesse, Germany

Kassel is a city located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Regierungsbezirk Kassel and the district of the same name and had 200,507 inhabitants in December 2015. The former capital of the state of Hesse-Kassel has many palaces and parks, including the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kassel is also known for the documenta exhibitions of contemporary art. Kassel has a public university with 25,000 students (2018) and a multicultural population.

Scheffer started exhibiting at the Salon de Paris in 1812. He began to be recognized in 1817, and in 1819 he was asked to make a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette. Perhaps because of Lafayette's acquaintances, Scheffer and his brothers were politically active throughout their lives and he became a prominent Philhellene. [2]


Philhellenism and philhellene, from the Greek φίλος philos "friend, lover" and ἑλληνισμός hellênismos "Greek", was an intellectual fashion prominent mostly at the turn of the 19th century. It contributed to the sentiments that led Europeans such as Lord Byron or Charles Nicolas Fabvier to advocate for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire.

In 1822 he became drawing teacher to the children of Louis Philippe I, the Duke of Orléans. Because of his connection with them, he obtained 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 rode from Paris to Orléans to ask Louis Philippe I to lead the resistance, and a few days later he became "King of the French". [2]

Louis Philippe I King of the French

Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848. His father Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans had taken the name "Philippe Égalité" because he initially supported the French Revolution. However, following the deposition and execution of his cousin King Louis XVI, Louis Philippe fled the country. His father denounced his actions and voted for his death, but was imprisoned and executed that same year. Louis Philippe spent the next 21 years in exile before returning during the Bourbon Restoration. He was proclaimed king in 1830 after his cousin Charles X was forced to abdicate by the July Revolution. The reign of Louis Philippe is known as the July Monarchy and was dominated by wealthy industrialists and bankers. He followed conservative policies, especially under the influence of French statesman François Guizot during the period 1840–48. He also promoted friendship with Britain and sponsored colonial expansion, notably the French conquest of Algeria. His popularity faded as economic conditions in France deteriorated in 1847, and he was forced to abdicate after the outbreak of the French Revolution of 1848. He lived out his life in exile in the United Kingdom. His supporters were known as Orléanists, as opposed to Legitimists who supported the main line of the House of Bourbon.

House of Orléans French noble family

The 4th House of Orléans, sometimes called the House of Bourbon-Orléans to distinguish it, is the fourth holder of a surname previously used by several branches of the Royal House of France, all descended in the legitimate male line from the dynasty's founder, Hugh Capet. The house was founded by Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, younger son of king Louis XIII and younger brother of king Louis XIV, the "Sun King".

Charles X of France King of France and of Navarre

Charles X was King of France from 16 September 1824 until 2 August 1830. For most of his life he was known as the Count of Artois. An uncle of the uncrowned Louis XVII and younger brother to reigning kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile. After the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Charles became the leader of the ultra-royalists, a radical monarchist faction within the French court that affirmed rule by divine right and opposed the concessions towards liberals and guarantees of civil liberties granted by the Charter of 1814. Charles gained influence within the French court after the assassination of his son Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, in 1820 and eventually succeeded his brother in 1824.

That same year, Scheffer's daughter Cornelia was born. He registered the name of her mother as "Maria Johanna de Nes", but nothing is known of her and she may have died soon after Cornelia's birth. Considering that his grandmother's name was "Johanna de Nes", it has been speculated that he kept the name of Cornelia's mother secret so as not to compromise the reputation of a noble family. Cornelia Scheffer (1830–1899) became a sculptor and painter in her own right. [3] Scheffer's mother did not know of her namesake granddaughter until 1837, after which she cared for her until she died only two years later. [2] Scheffer became an associate member of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands in 1846, and resigned in 1851. [4]

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Society of scientists and institute

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences is an organization dedicated to the advancement of science and literature in the Netherlands. The academy is housed in the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam.

Scheffer and his family prospered during the reign of Louis Philippe I, who abdicated on 24 February 1848. Scheffer and Hendrik were inundated with artistic commissions, and they taught numerous students in their workshop in Paris, so many that of the works produced during this period that bear his signature the number that he actually made himself cannot be verified. [2]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Scheffer was elevated as commander of the Legion of Honour in 1848. As a captain of the Garde Nationale he escorted the French royal family in its escape from the Tuileries and escorted the Duchess d'Orléans to the Chambre des Députés, where she in vain proposed her son as the next monarch of France. Scheffer fought in the army of Cavaignac during the June Days Uprising in Paris of 23 to 26 June 1848. The cruelty and hatred that the governmental faction exhibited and the misery of the lower classes so shocked him that he withdrew from politics and refused to make portraits of the family of Napoléon III, who reigned after the Uprising. On 16 March 1850 he married Sophie Marin, the widow of General Baudrand, and on 6 November of that year he finally became a French citizen. He continued to frequently travel to The Netherlands, and traveled to Belgium, Germany, and England, but a heart condition impaired his activity and eventually caused his death in 1858 in his summer house in Argenteuil. [2] He is buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre.


When Scheffer left Guérin's studio, Romanticism had come into vogue in France, with such painters as Xavier Sigalon, Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Géricault. Scheffer did not show much affinity with their work and developed his own style, which has been called "frigidly classical". [5]

Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appraised by Dante and Virgil Ary Scheffer - Francesca da Rimini en Paolo Malatesta aanschouwd door Dante en Vergilius 1854.jpg
Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appraised by Dante and Virgil

Scheffer often painted subjects from literature, especially the works of Dante, Byron and Goethe. Two versions of Dante and Beatrice have been preserved at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, United Kingdom, [6] and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, US. [7] Particularly highly praised was his Francesca da Rimini , painted in 1836, which illustrates a scene from Dante Alighieri's Inferno. In the piece the entwined bodies of Francesca di Rimini and Paolo Malatesta swirl around in the never-ending tempest that is the second circle of Hell. The illusion of movement is created by the drapery that envelopes the couple, as well as by Francesca's flowing hair. These two figures create a diagonal line that intersects the majority of the canvas creating not only a sense of movement, but also giving the painting an air of instability.[ original research? ] Francesca clings to Paolo as he turns his face away in anguish. There are an additional two figures in the image: hidden in the background, the poets Dante and Virgil look on as they make their way through the nine circles of Hell.

Scheffer's popular Faust-themed paintings include Margaret at her wheel; Faust doubting; Margaret at the Sabbat; Margaret leaving church; The garden walk, and Margaret at the well. In 1836, he painted two pictures of Goethe's character Mignon: Mignon desires her fatherland (1836), and Mignon yearns for heaven (1851). [8]

Temptation of Christ, 1854 Ary Scheffer - The Temptation of Christ (1854).jpg
Temptation of Christ, 1854

He now turned to religious subjects: Christus Consolator (1836) was followed by Christus Remunerator, The shepherds led by the star (1837), The Magi laying down their crowns, Christ in the Garden of Olives, Christ bearing his Cross, Christ interred (1845), and St Augustine and Monica (1846).

One of the reduced versions of his Christus Consolator (the prime version today to be found in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), lost for 70 years, was rediscovered in a janitor's closet in Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Dassel, Minnesota in 2007. It has been restored and is on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. [9]

Portrait of Katarzyna Potocka, 1850 (National Museum, Warsaw) Scheffer Katarzyna Potocka.jpg
Portrait of Katarzyna Potocka, 1850 (National Museum, Warsaw)

Scheffer was also an accomplished portrait painter, finishing 500 portraits in total. His subjects included composers Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, the Marquis de la Fayette, Pierre-Jean de Béranger, Alphonse de Lamartine, Charles Dickens, Duchess de Broglie, [10] Talleyrand [10] and Queen Marie Amélie.

After 1846, he ceased to exhibit. His strong ties with the royal family caused him to fall out of favour when, in 1848, the Second Republic came into being. Scheffer was made commander of the Legion of Honour in 1848, that is, after he had wholly withdrawn from the Salon. Shut up in his studio, he produced many paintings that were only exhibited after his death in 1858. [11]

The works first exhibited posthumously include Sorrows of the earth, and the Angel announcing the Resurrection, which he had left unfinished. By the time of his death, his reputation was damaged and was further undermined by the sale of the Paturle Gallery, which contained many of his most celebrated achievements: though his paintings were praised for their charm and facility, they were condemned for poor use of color and vapid sentiment. [11]

Friends and family

Jesus and Angel by Scheffer. Between 1848 and 1858. Jesus and Angel by Ary Scheffer.jpg
Jesus and Angel by Scheffer. Between 1848 and 1858.
French translator, writer, and literary critic Louis Viardot by Emile Lassalle (1813-1871), dated 1840. LouisViardot.jpg
French translator, writer, and literary critic Louis Viardot by Émile Lassalle (1813–1871), dated 1840.
Christ Weeping Over Jerusalem (1851) by Scheffer Ary Scheffer - Christ Weeping Over Jerusalem - Walters 37111.jpg
Christ Weeping Over Jerusalem (1851) by Scheffer

At various times Maurice Sand, Scheffer, Charles Gounod, Hector Berlioz were in relationships with Pauline Viardot — in letters they claimed that they were in love with her. [12] She wrote in one letter:

Louis and Scheffer (Scheffer was the best friend of Louis Viardot, husband of Pauline Viardot) has always been my dearest of friends, and it is sad, that I was never able to respond to the hot and deep love of Louis, despite all my volition." [13]

She was married to Louis Viardot at 18 years old, when her husband was a director of an Italian opera house in Paris and a friend of Scheffer. Scheffer was a confidant of Pauline Viardot and a friend of her family until his death. [13] [14]

In 1850 Scheffer became a French citizen and married Sophie Marin, the widow of General Marie Étienne François Henri Baudrand, who died on 7 September 1848. Marin died six years later (1856). [15]

Grave in Cimetiere de Montmartre (Paris). Tombe d'Ernest Renan -- Cimetiere de Montmartre.jpg
Grave in Cimetière de Montmartre (Paris).

His younger brother Hendrik Scheffer, born in The Hague on 27 September 1798, was also a painter. [16]

See also

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  1. Wikisource-logo.svg  Wood, James, ed. (1907). "Scheffer, Ary"  . The Nuttall Encyclopædia . London and New York: Frederick Warne.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Scheffer, Arij (1795–1858) in the Biographical Dictionary of the Netherlands: 1880–2000 (in Dutch)
  3. Scheffer, Cornelia (1830–1899) in the Biographical Dictionary of the Netherlands: 1880–2000 (in Dutch)
  4. "A. Scheffer (1795–1858)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  5. Murray, P. & L. (1996), Dictionary of art and artists. Penguin Books. ISBN   0-14-051300-0.
  6. Smyth, Patricia. "The Vision: Dante and Beatrice". The National Inventory of Continental European Paintings. VADS . Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  7. "Dante and Beatrice". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 11 November 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  8. "Ary Scheffer – Societyschilder in Parijs". Dordrechts Museum.
  9. Wagener, Anne-Marie; Pleshek, Tammy (31 March 2009). "Scheffer's Painting of Christ the Comforter Discovered in a Church in Rural Minnesota" (Press release). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minneapolis Institute of Art . Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  10. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg  Reynolds, Francis J., ed. (1921). "Scheffer, Ary"  . Collier's New Encyclopedia . New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company.
  11. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Scheffer, Ary"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 316.
  12. Журнальный зал >> Author:Ирина ЧАЙКОВСКАЯ "Полина Виардо: возможность дискуссии". Chapter: "Безобразная красавица".
  13. 1 2 Журнальный зал >> Author:Ирина ЧАЙКОВСКАЯ "Полина Виардо: возможность дискуссии". Chapter: "Монашка или женщина-вамп?"
  14. Barbara Kendall-Davis. P. 397.
  16. PD-icon.svg   Bryan, Michael (1889). "Scheffer, Hendrik". In Armstrong, Sir Walter; Graves, Robert Edmund (eds.). Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers (L–Z). II (3rd ed.). London: George Bell & Sons.

Further reading