New York, Brandus Gallery (in 1898)
John Warne Gates, St. Charles, Illinois (until 1911)
Dellora Baker Gates (wife of the above, until 1918)
Dellora Frances Angell and Lester J. Norris (bequeathed to Angell from the above, her aunt)
Art Institute of Chicago, in 1923 (long term loan until 1970 in the name of Robert Francis Angell, Dellora's father)
Gifted to the Art Institute of Chicago from the above in 1970
"Art Topic of the Week," The New York Times, December 10, 1898, p. 829
"The Brandus Gallery," The Art Collector, 1898, vol. 9, no. 2, p. 22
The New York Times Illustrated Magazine, April 30, 1899, p. 6, illustrated
The Art Institute of Chicago, Annual Report, 1970-71, p. 26
From the end of the long reign of Louis XIV and well after the Revolution, eighteenth century France celebrated and suffered a list of long battles. Indeed, throughout the 1700s France was rarely disengaged from fighting, whether at home, throughout Europe, or as far away as revolutionary America. In such tense times military heroes and their lives in army camps became fertile ground for daring and dramatic tales, as explored by such artists in the eighteenth century as Jean-Antoine Watteau to those in the nineteenth--Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier. Jacquet follows their models with his Welcome, depicting the end of a successful day's maneuvers rewarded by the comforts of food, wine and the company of an elegantly dressed group of women and their servants. In contrast to the group's elaborately detailed costumes, weapons, and armament, the camp cuisine is served on simple pewter plates resting on a spindly-legged table, and pocketknives are the best eating implements available. Effectively capturing the make-shift nature of a military camp site, Jacquet repurposes a drum (the beats of which called the soldiers to come and eat) as an end table while a wreath, perhaps symbolizing victory and the promise of rest and relaxation, hangs from a slender tree trunk, itself a useful pole to support a tent awning.
At the Paris Salon of 1892, Welcome hung among military subjects by Edouard Detaille and Etienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour. Yet, in comparison with these works detailing the strategies and postures of soldiers, Jacquet appears less interested in describing military maneuvers in favor of the camp's accoutrements. While these myriad details may at first seem a flight of fancy, in reality each element was carefully studied by the artist. In the 1909 sale of Jacquet's estate at the Galerie Georges Petit over 300 lots of mid-to late eighteenth century period costumes were offered along with an elaborate assortment of period objects. Such a collection, as Robert de Montesquiou wrote in the auction catalogue, allowed Jacquet to become the "beau cavalier" who created compositions of such "grace and force of elegance and of seduction" in their "erudite and charming" assembly of "shivering satins and shining of the dresses... which seem like a refrain from a poem made up of lingerie, lace, various items of clothing... weapons, amour, old musical instruments" (as translated from the French, Tableaux, aquarelles, pastels, dessins par Gustave Jacquet, Paris, 1909, p. 6). Such a veracity of detail combined with technical skill and aesthetic flair is what Montesquiou thought made works such as Welcome comparable to the best by Watteau, Edgar Degas, Albert Besnard, and Giovanni Boldini; their draftsmanship, he felt, could not be compared with Jacquet's "security in his science" of making art (Tableaux, p. 11).
Indeed, Welcome received great praise when it appeared at New York's Brandus Gallery in 1898 along with William Bouguereau's Reverie, from the Salon of 1897, Ary Scheffer's The Repentance of Peter, Adolph Schreyer's Arab Horsemen, and works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Charles François Daubigny. A writer for The Art Collector was immediately captivated by Jacquet's work, which he described as "an unusually large canvas. The usual woman faces, for which the artist is best known, are grouped here together, with all their belongings of satin gowns, lovely hands, dainty slippers, and form a bright and lively group.... The picturesque costumes and attitudes of the cavaliers add zest to the composition" ("The Brandus Gallery," p. 22). The appeal of Jacquet's work, combined with the marketing prowess of gallerist Edward Brandus, made Welcome a desirable object in the art market of 1898, appearing again in The New York Times Illustrated Magazine, pictured next to Rembrandt's The Man with a Cane (Portrait of the Artist in Armenian Costume) also available at the Brandus Gallery.
While it is unknown if John Warne Gates, the first recorded owner of Welcome, purchased the work directly from Brandus, his biography and collecting sensibilities were typical of the era's most powerful New York gallery patrons. A native of Winfield, Illinois, Gates went from an entry-level position selling barbed wire throughout Texas to become a magnate of industry with his Southern Wire Company. This first company would lead him to become a force in the steel industry--eventually merging his company with that of J.P. Morgan's to create the United States Steel Corporation. Gates' fortune was further supported by his founding of an oil concern, the Texas Company (which became Texaco), as well as railroads; he acquired the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf Railroad which in turn allowed him to become a great civic leader of the town of Port Arthur, Texas near the crossing of his trains' tracks (James E. Hofman, ed., The Cyclopaedia of American Biography, New York, 1918, vol. 8, p. 61-62).
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