The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 013
Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtus à sa famille'

Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtus à sa famille'

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1857
Collection: Whereabouts Unknown
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: unknown
Size: unknown
Signature: unknown
Inscription: unknown
Frame: unknown

Date

Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille' dates from 1857. 1

On 7 April 1857 Whistler, then living at the rue Poupée in Paris, wrote to Comte Alfred Émilien O'Hara van Nieuwerkerke (1811-1892), Directeur des Musées, requesting permission to copy a picture in the Musée du Luxembourg by Jean-Victor Schnetz (1787-1870) 'representant un Prisonier [sic] faisant ses Adieux à sa famille.' 2

Whistler later (on 6 August 1900) told the Pennells that when he was first studying in Paris he was given a commission from Captain Williams of Stonington, Conn., 'to copy as many pictures as I chose for twenty-five dollars a piece, and I copied a picture … of a woman holding up a child toward a barred window and a man seen looking through the bars.' 3

J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins
J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins

Although in 1900 Whistler could not remember the name of the artist whose picture he copied in 1857, his description of the original was fairly accurate. Jean Victor Schnetz's Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille (310 x 260; Musée des Augustins, Toulouse) was commissioned as a decoration for the rooms of the Conseil d'Etat in the Louvre. It was painted in 1826 and shown at the Salon of 1827. It entered the Musée du Luxembourg from 1836, until about 1860, and from 1874 until it was transferred to the Louvre in 1878. Following an arrêté ministériel of 19 November 1885, it was deposited in the museum at Toulouse in 1886. 4 Thus it was at the Musée du Luxembourg when copied by Whistler.

Images

Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille', Whereabouts unknown
Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille', Whereabouts unknown

J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins
J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins

Subject

Titles

References to the title are as follows:

"Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille' " is the preferred title.

Description

Schnetz's subject is described on the Joconde website as 'Le consul Boëtius, philosophe et homme politique, enfermé dans la tour de Pavie par ordre de Théodoric, reçoit les adieux de sa fille et de son petit-fils avant d'aller au supplice.' 8

J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins
J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins

The original, vivid in colour and highly finished, shows the outside of a prison, with a barred arched window high up, out of which a bearded old man reaches out to a golden-haired child in pale blue clothes. The child is held up by a woman in bright robes (a dark green cloak, orangey-red overdress with a blue border, ochre dress, and white scarf embroidered with gold). In the foreground at lower left is an old woman seated on the ground, at right, a black dog.

It is not known if Whistler painted the whole scene.

Technique

Composition

J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins
J. V. Schnetz, Les Adieux du consul Boëtius à sa famille, Musée des Augustins

Whistler's painting was a copy after the painting by Jean-Victor Schnetz (1787–1870), Les Adieux du Consul Boetius à sa Famille, 1826, oil on canvas, 31.0 × 26.0 cm, Musée des Augustins, Musée des Beaux Arts de Toulouse.

It is not known if Whistler copied the whole of Schnetz's composition, or simply the main figures.

Technique

Nothing is known about the technique, although, given the similarities between Whistler's surviving copies, it was probably a carefully painted oil painting on canvas. Whistler commented, 'I have no doubt I made something very interesting out of them. There were very wonderful things even then, the beginning of harmonies and purple schemes. I suppose it must have been intuitive.' 9

Conservation History

Unknown.

Frame

Unknown.

History

Provenance

Although Whistler assumed in 1900 that the copy was still in Stonington, no further record of it exists. His account is as follows:

'Then in Paris, when I was first studying, Captain Williams from Stonington; Stonington Bill they called him, got me to paint his portrait, and then gave me a commission to copy as many pictures as I chose for twenty-five dollars a piece, and I copied a picture, ... of a woman holding up a child toward a barred window and a man seen looking through the bars ... I have no doubt I made something very interesting out of them. There were very wonderful things even then, the beginning of harmonies and purple schemes. I suppose it must have been intuitive. … Probably all these are still at Stonington and are shown as wonderful things by Whistler!' 10

Exhibitions

No exhibitions are known.

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

Catalogues 1906-Present

On Schnetz:

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

On Schnetz:

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 13).

2: Archives du Louvre, LL 22; GUW #09214.

3: Pennell 1921C [more], p. 171.

4: Propriété de l'Etat; musée du Louvre, D 1886 2; 259 (Ro); Inv. 7883 (Numéro d'inv. du musée du Louvre); RF 439 (Numéro d'inv. du musée du Louvre); see Roschach 1920 [more], p. 23.

5: Whistler to Comte de Nieuwerkerke, 7 April 1857, Archives du Louvre, LL 22; GUW #09214.

6: Pennell 1921C [more], p. 171.

7: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 13).

8: Joconde website.

9: Quoted in Pennell 1921C [more], p. 171.

10: Quoted by Pennell 1921C [more], p. 171.