Friday, 27 December 2013

Not just a Revolution for the young.....

A National Guardsman and his wife by Rémy-Furcy Descarsin (1746-1793)
73cm x 90.5 cm.  Oil.
Signed "Descarsin, painter to Monsieur, brother of the King 1791"
Musée de la Révolution Française, Vizille

This lovely painting was acquired by the Musée de la Révolution Française, Vizille in 2004, having recently come up for public auction.  A piece of political propaganda certainly, but as an unpatronising portait of two ordinary people, it shows the legacy of the Revolution at its best.

Of the painter, Rémy-Furcy Descarsin,  little is known.  He was active in Paris and failed to gain entry to the Academy of Painting in 1789 when he submitted a self-portrait. Apparently he had two musical sisters.  He styled himself painter to the comte de Provence, dating the painting  to before the latter's successful flight from Paris in June 1791.  The title is a bit puzzling; clearly the man is too old to be an active National Guardsman. In fact the uniform is purely symbolic. The subjects were an old couple from Nantes, who were the recipients of charitable attention from the local Jacobins.  Here is a contemporary account from the Annales Nantaises 

2nd February 1791
A married couple, aged more than a hundred ("plus que centenaires") from the former diocese of Angers, named René Dogereau or Degro, and Perrine Trouillard, were living near the former Hermitage, in a state of abandonment and distress.  The Amis de la Constitution, who had heard about them though their inquiries after recommendations for public charity, awarded to these old people a pension which would continue to to be paid to whichever of the two remained living.  To give them an idea of the Revolution, which they could not expect to enjoy for long, they dressed them up in clothes in the three national colours.  The Compagnie des Adolescents then fetched them and took them to the Theatre, to performances of The Family Supper  and The Three Farmers which were put on in their benefit.  Dogereau, had been a wine grower, a ferryman and finally a caulker of boats.  He died a short time ago but his wife is still alive and still has the use of her senses. p.581-582.

Annales Nantaises,by  Michel Guimar, published in Year III of the Republic

For a discussion of the painting, see :

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