Alfred de Dreux
- Alfred de Dreux
Cheval Blanc Effraye par l'Orage
- Signed Alfred De Dreux (lower right)
- Oil on canvas
Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney
Paris, Château de Maisons-Lafitte, Alfred de Dreux: Exposition rétrospective, 1928, no. 14
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Chevaux et cavaliers, 1948, no. 36
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, The John Hay Whitney Collection, 1983, no. 7
Saratoga, New York, National Museum of Racing, A Selection of Equestrian Art from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney, 1989, no. 5
The Tate Gallery, The John Hay Whitney Collection (exhibition catalogue), London, 1960-61, discussed under no. 22
Marie-Christine Renauld, Alfred de Dreux: Le Cheval, passion d'un dandy Parisien, Paris, 1997, illustrated p. 64
De Dreux’s uncle, Pierre-Joseph de Dreux-Dorcy, was one of Théodore Géricault’s closest friends and artistic colleagues. The elder man would often bring his nephew to Géricault’s studio in Paris, as well as to the London studio the artist kept during the early 1820s. In London, the young de Dreux was deeply influenced by the paintings of Morland, Constable and Stubbs, which, combined with his tutelage under Géricault, instilled in him a love for sporting subjects, particularly wild stallions. As a result, de Dreux devoted his artistic career almost exclusively to equestrian subjects.
De Dreux capitalized on his early experiences in England and flourished as an artist in London, exhibiting at the Royal Academy just as frequently as the Paris Salon. His riding portraits of French and British aristocracy received a great amount of critical attention and, as John Rewald wrote, “His success was as brilliant as the fashionable world he painted” (John Rewald, The John Hay Whitney Collection (exhibition catalogue), The National Gallery, Washington D.C., 1983, n.p.).
In Cheval Blanc Offrayé par L’Orage, the artist renders the stallion with highly expressive brushstrokes that add a frenzied and energized appearance to the composition. In his depiction of this powerful animal, he is able to convey the fear and panic associated with the approaching storm. Interestingly, the dramatic and animated foreshortening of the frightened horse contrast with Gericault's painting White Horse Frightened by Lightning (1813-14, The National Gallery, London), in which the animal's face reflects fear while his body stands in reserved profile.