Lot 79
  • 79

Théodore Chassériau

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Théodore Chassériau
  • Portrait of Comte Oscar de Ranchicourt Leaving for the Hunt; Portrait of Comtesse de Ranchicourt Leaving for the Hunt: a pair
  • both signed Th. Chassériau and dated 1854. (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • both 45 7/8 by 35 1/4 in.
  • 116.5 by 89.5 cm


Collection of Comte and Comtesse Oscar de Ranchicourt
Thence by descent
Sale: Galerie Charpentier, Paris, June 16, 1960, lot 36, 37, illustrated
Marianne Feilschenfeldt, Zurich
Walter Feilschenfeldt, Zurich
Thence by descent until 2009


Cleveland Museum of Art, Style, Truth and the Portrait, 1963
Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, La Femme et l'artiste-de-Bellini à Picasso, May 22 - September 20, 1964, no. 104 (Portrait of Comtesse de Ranchicourt)
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais; Strasbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art,  Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856): The Unknown Romantic, February 26, 2002 - January 5, 2003, no. 211 and 212 (lent by Walter Feilschenfeldt, Zurich)


The artist's manuscripts (as Deux Portraits within a list of works from 1853-1855, Musée Louvre, according to Sandoz, 1974)
Valbert Chevillard, Un Peintre romantique: Théodore Chassériau, Paris, 1893, no. 249
Léonce Bénédite, Théodore Chassériau: Sa vie, son oeuvre, Paris, 1931, vol. II, pp. 356-7
Remy de Saisselin, "The Portrait in History: Some Connections between Art and Literature," Apollo, October 1963, pp. 281-8, illustrated
Marc Sandoz, "Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856) et la peinture des Pays-Bas," Bulletin des Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, 17, nos. 3-4, 1968, pp. 182 and 184
Marc Sandoz, Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856: Catalogue raisonné des peintures et estampes, Paris, 1974, pp. 384-6, no. 240-1, pl. 206-7, illustrated
Louis-Antione Prat, Musée du Louvre. Cabinet des dessins. Inventaire général des dessins, École Français. Dessins de Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856, Paris, 1988, vol. I, p. 326, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The commission of large scale portraits by Comte Oscar de Ranchicourt and his wife Comtesse de Ranchicourt (née Clotilde de Buss d’Hollebèque) gave Chassériau the opportunity to paint close friends and to show off his exemplary skills to an influential audience.   In these equestrian portraits, Chassériau took on a dual challenge: to capture the personality and status of his sitters and to infuse his own aesthetic sensibilities in what could often be a stifling painting genre.  In particular, the Comtesse is captured in a remarkable pose, her upper body shifting toward the viewer, the black luster of her costume twisting in turn as she readies to mount the horse held by her valet.  As Marc Sandoz suggests, the Comtesse’s family home, the Château de Hollebèque in Belgium, stands in the background (now destroyed). While the elegant lines of the Comtesse’s posture are placed against the graceful form of the stone balustrade, her husband is painted in the middle of a Barbizon-like forest, his pose static, with his horse’s bent head and valet leaning to keep his hounds at bay.  Sandoz argues that the works appear narrower than planned, as if the artist perhaps intended the works as a double portrait -- in which the Comte would be on the left entering the forest, with the Comtesse at right standing near a hunting lodge, with the horses and hounds serving as a transition between the two spaces.  Ultimately, the portraits were served better as pendants, each setting and pose providing context for the sitter (Stéphane Guégan, Victor Pomarède, and Louis-Antoine Prat, Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856, The Unknown Romantic, exh., cat., 2002-2003, p. 346).

These remarkable portraits were the product of intense study, as demonstrated by Chassériau’s numerous preparatory works: two studies in conté crayon and graphite for the valet and hounds to the right of the Comte are in the collection of the Louvre, Paris; a larger number of sketches for the Comtesse; the oil painting, Chestnut Horse (Musée des Beaux-Arts de La Rochelle), which Louis-Antoine Prat believes to be a study for the Comtesse’s horse; and the bust-length Portrait of Comtesse de Ranchicourt (stolen from the family in the 1980s) which Sandoz considers a further study for the full length portrait (Pomarède, p. 346).

This careful preparation points to Chassériau's study in Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' studio, which he entered in 1830 at the age of eleven, later falling under the Romantic influence of Eugène Delacroix (a bitter disappointment to Ingres). Chassériau's work is often considered Romantic color and form. Moreover, the portraits reveal Chassériau's appreciation of the Dutch and Flemish schools, particularly Rubens and Van Dyck, and English portrait painters including Gainsborough.