Merry Joseph Blondel

1781 - 1853

Place Born


Place Died



Blondel was a painter whose talents earned him all the marks of the established artist, the prix de Rome of 1803, a gold medal from the Salon jury (1817), the Légion d’Honneur (1824) a professorship at the école des Beaux Arts (in 1832) and in the same year a seat in the Institute. Nonetheless, despite these public honors, his later career did not meet the initial promise which had engendered positive comments from artists and the critics. He painted principally historical and religious subjects, the kind of public commissions which artists hoped would bring them wealth and fame, many of which were exhibited at the Salons. His first exhibited work was a study of a head, shown in 1806 and about which we know nothing. This was followed in 1808 with a more ambitious Prometheus in the Caucasus and a Full Length Portrait of a Woman which, while it was not identified further, is the painting described here. Several more classical subjects followed in the Salons of 1812 and 1814, and in 1817 he presented his first modern historical subject, The Death of Louis XII (Toulouse, Musée des Augustins). He soon found favor with the newly restored King, Louis XVIII and, in the 1820s, exhibited some appropriate royalist subjects as well as an Assumption of the Virgin (Rodez Cathedral). With the advent of the Orléans Monarchy he followed the fashionable revival of interest in Bonapartism, painting The Architects Beaumont and Fontaine Submitting their Plans to Napoleon in 1807 (Versailles) in 1834 and, in the Salon of the same year, presenting a Napoleon Visiting the Palais Royal After the Dissolution of the Tribune. Thenceforward he returned to the theme of events in French history with a handful of ecclesiastical commissions. His last exhibited work was a portrait of his daughter, shown at the Salon of 1847.

He started his career in the studio of the accomplished academic painter, Jean-Baptiste Regnault, who had pursued a successful career as a history painter, eventually receiving the title of Baron from Louis XVIII. As a winner of the Prix de Rome he was entitled to a trip to Rome at the expense of the government but, the resurgence of the war led to these trips being suspended and he received 1000 francs in compensation. He finally left for Italy in 1809 as a pensionnaire at the Academy, remaining there for some two years. Upon his return he did not attract immediate notice, but with the Restoration his career took-off. He was one of several artists commissioned to redecorate the newly installed galleries of the Louvre, and received the major portion of the commissions for the decorations of the Gallery of Diana at Fontainebleau. His work can be found in several Parisian Churches including Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Notre Dame de Loretto, and also at Versailles where he was responsible for many of the portraits in the Salle des Croisades and in the historical galleries. In his early work he exhibited some similarity with the work of his contemporary, Ingres, and the exhibited portrait shows his interest in drapery and clothing and the same sensuous approach to the painting of women. As his career was established, male sitters were more frequent patrons and included, among others, the architects Charles Percier, Maximilien Hurtault, Jean-Baptiste Lepére, and Alphonse Gisors, the well-known English doctor William Rogers and his French colleague, Labric. By the end of his career he was a well-known establishment figure, but his style was already considered retardataire by his contemporaries and it as an artist of the First Empire and Restoration that he is best remembered.

Available Art Works

Portrait of Félicité-Louise-Julie-Constance de Durfort, Maréchale de Beurnonville (10 June 1782 7 February 1870)

Work Available
Historical Period: 1780-1820 Neoclassicism
Portrait of Félicité-Louise-Julie-Constance de Durfort, Maréchale de Beurnonville (10 June 1782 7 February 1870)