Bar-sur-Aube 1823-1893 Paris
A Prisoner Seated in Profile to the Right, Handcuffed, with His Legs Crossed
Signed and inscribed, lower left, Eglise St. Eustache/Chapelle des oeuvres/de miséricorde/Vbiennourry; also, numbered in black chalk, vertically to the left and right, and horizontally along the top with scale indications
Black and white chalk on blue paper, squared for transfer
10 x 11 inches
255 x 280 mm
Drawn circa 1854
This drawing shows a figure study for one of Biennourry’s two most important church decorations in Paris, the Chapelle des Oeuvres de Miséricorde, in the Church of Saint-Eustache. Painted in 1854 (together with a second project, Les Vertus cardinals), the chapel illustrates the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy.
Showing a seated figure in chains facing right, this drawing served as a study for the prisoner in the left foreground of the lower-register fresco, Visit the Imprisoned, in Saint-Eustache. A study for the standing figure in the upper-register fresco of the same chapel, Bury the Dead, formerly in the collection of David Daniels, is in the Morgan Library.
A pupil of Michel-Martin Drölling (1786-1851), Biennourry entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1839. Awarded the Prix de Rome in 1842, he became a highly successful artist during the Second Empire under the patronage of Napoleon III, who commissioned several decorations for the Tuileries palace. In addition to the chapels in Saint-Eustache and Saint Séverin, Biennourry received other official state commissions in Paris, including murals for the Churches of Saint-Roch (circa 1852), Saint-Etienne-du-Mont (1863), and the gallery of antiquities in the Louvre (1864-66).