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Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
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Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Jacque, Charles Emile
Collection: European Collection
Specialty: Paintings
View Artwork
Charles Jacque was one of a group of early nineteenth-century French
artists (and later their American followers) who would eventually become
known as the Barbizon School for the village on the edge of the Forest of
Fontainebleau where most of them gathered to paint. The movement began as
a reaction against the dictates of the academic art establishment.
Academic standards of the time were based upon the neo-classicism of the
18th century and insisted upon a polished finish, muted colors, historical
or genre subjects, and a representational style of painting that
eliminated the visible hand of the painter. In the 1830s, influenced by
Dutch 17th century landscapes and the more recent English painters
Constable and Turner, these artists began challenging the standards of the
Salon. Led by Theodore Rousseau, they favored personal expression instead
of academic rules and painted their local rural landscapes using coarsely
applied pigment that left traces of the brush and dabs of paint or swaths
of color that sought to convey an emotional state rather than a meticulous
depiction of a particular scene.

Jacque had come to Barbizon fleeing a cholera epidemic in Paris. Having
heard about a village where great artistic things were happening, he and
his friend Jean-Francois Millet set out to find it, despite the fact that
all Jacque could remember was the fact that the name ended in "-zon". When
they found it, they also found inhabitants like Corot, Daubigny, Diaz,
Daumier, Barye, and Troyon, as well as a home for life. Millet and Jacque
immediately rented barns to use as studios.

Along with landscapes, some of the Barbizon artists turned to the
depiction of such humble motifs as domestic animals, or occasionally
exotic animals, in realistic rather than classical poses. Jacque began
chicken farming and wrote what was for a time the standard work on
maintaining a chicken farm, Le Poulailler . He soon became famous
for his paintings and etchings of chickens and pigs, becoming so adept at
his pig portraiture that the critics jocularly called him "le Raphael
de couchons
" - "the Raphael of pigs". Yet another critic of the time

Troyon has been the most powerful animal painter of our time, but
Jacque will remain the most
spiritual. Pigs, sheep, dogs, horses, -
everything succeeds with him. And chickens! how well he knows them! how he
talks about them! He is at the same time their Buffon and their Homer!

In the mid-1850s when Jacque painted Ploughing, the famous writers
the Goncourt Brothers noted that two strains had emerged in landscape art:
1) the picturesque and sanitized versions of the countryside, and 2) the
more overtly aggressive landscapes featuring the realities of the peasant
workers. Jacque's and Millet's paintings both belonged to the second
category, documenting the work of the poor in the rural communities around
Barbizon and recording traditional activities that were being threatened
by government legislation.

From 1859 on, the paintings of the Barbizon School began to circulate
throughout Europe as their work increased in popularity. Though they
remained to some extent artistic rebels, the Barbizon artists increasingly
held positions of authority in the art establishment throughout the 1860s.
Jacque received seven third class medals from various Salon exhibitions,
and he and Rousseau both received the Legion d'Honneur in 1867. After the
Franco-Prussian War and the conflict surrounding the Paris Commune, the
Barbizon School began to die out and by the end of the 1870s, most of them
were gone. Jacque established a factory to produce "artistic furniture"
and continued to sell his work through dealers. In 1881, he helped
establish and was elected the first president of the Societe des
Animaliers Francais. His final award came at the 1889 Exposition
Universelle where he won a gold medal for painting and a grand prix for
printmaking. By then the elderly Jacque was calling himself "the last of
the romantics". Ending an era, he died in 1894.

Everl Adair, Director of Research and Rare Collections