View of the Château de Fontainebleau from the White Horse Courtyard

View of the Château de Fontainebleau from the White Horse Courtyard - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Oil on paper marouflaged on canvas
H. 34.5 cm;L. 51.5 cm
Fontainebleau, National Museum of the Château, F. 1998.2

A student of Baron Taylor and Abel de Pujol at the École des Beaux-Arts, Pierre-Justin Ouvrié took part in the Salon from 1831, where he attracted the attention of King Louis-Philippe. His preferred domain was the representation of cities and their monuments: Venice, Rouen, Naples, Bruges, Amsterdam, London and the castles of Pau, Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau as well as Fontainebleau. This study marouflaged on canvas pre-dates the painter’s historicist and romantic compositions: the White Horse Courtyard is depicted in 1833, nearly empty with the exception of a few small silhouettes criss-crossing the courtyard in mineral tones. 

This painting gives the impression of a solitary, almost abandoned building, under a golden late afternoon light, a light that the painter appreciated. In fact, May 1833 was the dawn of the rebirth of the Château de Fontainebleau: six months later, Eugène Jamin reported that ‘more than five hundred workers were spread over the vast expanse of the royal residence’. In 1840, the terrace that can still be seen in the painting was replaced by the Fresco Gallery. Similarly, the vestibule of the Horseshoe Staircase opens onto the courtyard through a gate that would be replaced by the glass door that is still there today, and the central pavilion does not yet bear the niche containing the bust of Francis I. The only mark of modernity flying above the central pavilion is the tricolour flag that Louis-Philippe proudly displayed on the emblematic monuments of the French monarchy from the beginning of his reign.

2018-2019, Château de Fontainebleau, Louis-Philippe à Fontainebleau. The King and History.

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