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Bar-sur-Aube 1823-1893 Paris

A Three-quarter Length Study of a Standing Soldier Wearing a Sword, His Left Arm Raised

A Three-quarter Length Study of a Standing Soldier Wearing a Sword, His Left Arm Raised

Signed and inscribed, lower right, Eglise St. Severin/chapelle St. Pierre/et St. Paul./VBiennourry; also, numbered in red chalk horizontally along the bottom with scale indications

Black, red and yellow chalk on blue paper, squared for transfer

11 x 9 ¾ inches

280 x 246 mm

Drawn circa 1852

This drawing shows a figure study for one of Biennourry’s two most important church decorations in Paris, the Chapelle Saint Pierre-Saint Paul in the Church of Saint Séverin. Painted in 1852, the Saint-Séverin chapel is devoted to scenes from the lives of Saints Peter and Paul.

The standing figure with a sword is a study, with some differences, for the soldier on the far right in the background in the lower-register fresco, The Denial of Saint Peter, in Saint Séverin. The story of Peter’s thrice-denial of Christ to the woman in the courtyard of the high priest is detailed in the Gospel of Luke (22: 55-62).  In the fresco, which has suffered from dampness, the soldier is shown in full profile.  A study for the head of Christ in the adjoining fresco, Saint Peter Receiving the Keys of the Kingdom, is in a private collection, New York.

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).

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