Mr. Hercules Louis Dousman II, St. Louis, Missouri
S.A. Coale, St. Louis, Missouri (acquired from the above)
Edward Strahan, The Art Treasures of America, New York, 1977, vol. III, pp. 53-54, illustrated p. 54 (facsimile of the 1879 publication)
Cabanel's Eve After the Fall, the study for The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Paradise, originally entered the collection of Hercules Louis Dousman II of St. Louis, Missouri, in December 1879. H.L. Dousman II was a member of one of Wisconsin's most illustrious frontier entrepreneurial families. His impressive European art collection was featured in Edward Strahan's The Art Treasures of America, and a facsimile sketch of Eve After the Fall is illustrated therein. Strahan's ambitious compilation documented select outstanding collections across America with the hope of revealing the richness and enlightenment of American culture.
The Dousman family fortune was amassed through the American fur trade. Hercules L. Dousman Senior acquired a 25 acre property in an area of southwestern Wisconsin, the upper Mississippi Valley, known as Prairie du Chien. John Jacob Astor set up a post of the American Fur Company in this area in 1808, which was managed by Joseph Rollette. When Joseph Rollette passed away, Hercules L. Dousman Sr. married his widow, and in 1826 became John Jacob Astor's agent. In 1843, he built the "House on the Mound." Dousman Sr.'s extraordinary wealth fostered the development of the railroad in this region in 1857.
It is not clear when Hercules Louis Dousman II, son of Hercules Dousman Sr., began his art collection, though he may have been inspired by his association with S.A. Coale, a prominent St. Louis art collector and dealer. From 1871 to 1881, Hercules Louis purchased about ninety paintings by Benjamin Constant and William Bouguereau, among others. He acquired these works directly from two galleries, A. Kohn and Knoedler & Co, and in 1880 he built a gallery in his home to properly house and display the collection. In 1886 the "House on the Mound" was renamed the "Villa Louis" in honor of Dousman II's sudden death. Although we do not have the exact year when Eve After the Fall left the Dousman collection, it is certain that Hercules L. Dousman sold it to S.A. Coale in the 1880s. One can speculate that the work may have been sold at that time either to accommodate a change in the mansion's style from Victorian to British Arts-and-Crafts or to finance Dousman's passion for breeding and training standardbred racing horses.
It is not surprising that the Dousman family originally acquired a work by Alexander Cabanel to add to their collection, as he was considered one of the most gifted and important Academic painters of his time. According to Alexandra Murphy, the Cabanel vente après déces in May 22-25, 1889 included numerous preparatory works for the final Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Paradise. Included were two painted studies of Eve, the large replica, as well as 35 drawings and painted studies of each of the figures. Cabanel sought "to master the human figure," as he wrote to his brother upon receiving the Prix de Rome in 1845, and indeed the vast amount of preparatory work for this one Salon picture attests to Cabanel's extraordinary draughtsmanship and tireless technical perfectionism. In the present work, Cabanel clearly develops Eve's pose and situates her within the landscape that repeats in the final Salon version. It is likely that Cabanel used the same model for Eve as he did for his most celebrated Birth of Venus of 1863.
We are grateful to Penny Lenzendorf, Program Assistant at the Villa Louis Historic Site, Wisconsin Historical Society, for kindly providing additional information on the Dousman family.
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