Jules Marie Sevestre
The Bather, cica 1870
Signed lower left
Dimensions: 63 x 66cm
With frame: 87.5 x 91 cm
Jules Marie Sevestre is a talented 19th century painter. He made a career during the years of political, historical and pictorial upheavals. He was born in 1834, the year General Lafayette died, while Chateaubriand, Mirabeau and Hugo were debating the political and artistic future of France.
The painter received the teaching of Camille Corot and Léon Coignet; he debuted at the Paris Salon of 1864. The same year, Viollet-le-Duc consecrated Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral after renovation.
The French museum is getting organized; the institution too. The painter seized the codes of the official style of Neo-classicism and immersed himself in the Realism of Courbet after having been upset by the codes of Romanticism.
He stopped sending his paintings to the Salon in 1890 to devote himself to a solitary and personal practice.
This painting denotes the lesson of Realism of Manet and Courbet. The painter departs from the psychic depth of the figures of Romanticism to propose a nude study. Far from Chassériau, he takes up Ingres, his talents as a draftsman and his academicism.
The painting is from the 1870s. The frame, Louis XIV style, is the original one. The painter represents a bather in the middle of nature. Depicted in three quarters, it shows the arch of its back, a solid and delicate architecture around which the composition is organized.
Sevestre develops the back, extends to the leg and underlines the diagonal of the painting by the same effect. The young girl grabs a branch, thus pretending the reason for which she puts her head on the arm, she crosses one leg like the great odalisque of Ingres.
Red hair frames the face and highlights the girl’s back. His gaze is directed towards the viewer; he observes the green flame which animates his pupils. Nature is subtly suggested, the leaves and the stream seem agitated by the shiver of the wind and the hand of the painter.
• Rouen Fine Arts Museum, Evreux Museum, Vitrée Museum, private collections.
• “Modern review of arts and life 1920 – 1982”, 1st Feb. 1903.