The European Art Sale

The European Art Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 500. Telasco Defends His Fiancée.

Alexandre Marie Colin

Telasco Defends His Fiancée

Lot Closed

October 25, 03:39 PM GMT


5,000 - 7,000 USD

Lot Details


Alexandre Marie Colin


1798 - 1875

Telasco Defends His Fiancée

signed: A. Colin (center)

oil on canvas

canvas: 15¼ by 21¾ in.; 38.7 by 55.2 cm

framed: 21¾ by 27¾ in.; 55.2 by 70.4 cm

Sale: Drouot-Estimations, Paris, 4 June, 1999, lot 50
Private collection, France
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, 29 May, 2008, lot 63
Acquired from above by present owner
Born in Paris in 1798, Colin was a pupil of Girodet and close friend of Théodore Gericault and Eugène Delacroix, with whom he worked as a lithographer and at one time shared a studio. 

Colin’s painting illustrates a scene from Jean-Francois Marmontel’s (1723-1799) novel Les Incas, ou la destruction de l’Empire du Pérou (The Incas or the Destruction of the Empire of Peru), published in Paris in 1777, that recounts three historic events: the destruction of the empires of Mexico and Peru, and the rampaging of Central America by the Spanish military. Based on historical accounts, Marmontel's novel achieves a striking balance between contemporary secular and non-secular accounts.

Here, Telasco, the Aztec prince, fights against Cortes' Spanish troops while trying to protect his fiancée, the Princess Amazili. Surrounded by the enemy, the lovers contemplate ending their own lives in a fit of desperation. As Telasco draws an arrow from his quiver, Amazili grabs him and exclaims, "Stop! Stop! Begin with me; I defend myself with my hand, and I want to die by yours" (chapter 9). Colin’s staging of the scene--amidst death and destruction--heightens the drama of Amazili’s heroic gesture--striding forward at center bathed in light, arm in arm, and gazing into each other's eyes, Amazili’s outstretched arm and open palm meets Telasco’s arrow, pointed at their chests, to assuage his fear and prevent further fatal action.

As early as the 1820s, Colin embarked on the project of creating illustrations to be published with Marmontel’s book. Although the venture was never fully realized, the themes explored in the book inspired many works on paper and, in the 1840s, on canvas, including a pair of paintings shown at the 1848 Paris Salon.