Courtyard of the Castle of Wuflens, near the lake of Geneva
(Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé (Count))


In 1819 a critic noted that Turpin de Crissé’s artistic talent and achievement were unusual for a painter of “amateur” status and aristocratic rank. [1]This statement is somewhat misleading as it was Turpin de Crissé’s conspicuous artistic success that enabled him to restore his family fortunes and live in the style of an artistocrat. The Turpin de Crissé family was of extremely ancient origin and successive generations fought in the service of the Crown, holding the post of Royal Chamberlain to Charles V, Charles VI, Charles VII and François I. During the Revolution the family was exiled in England, but Théodore subsequently returned to France where he was introduced to the Empress Josephine and other members of the imperial family, who bought his paintings. Despite his service to the Empress, whose Chamberlain he was from 1809 until her death in 1814, Turpin de Crissé remained an ardent royalist, staunchly loyal to the Bourbons in exile, for which he was rewarded in 1816 with nomination to the Academy, membership of the Council of the Royal Museums, and the appointment, in 1824, as Inspector-General of the Fine Arts. Disgusted by the behavior of Louis-Philippe, he resigned his post after the July Revolution but continued to exhibit at the Salon. At his death in 1859, he bequeathed his substantial personal art collection, including antique sculptures and jewels and many painting, among which was a Paolo and Francesca by Ingres, to the city of Angers which installed it in the Hotel Pincé. Turpin de Crissé, who had been taught by his father, also an amateur artist, was a prolific painter who exhibited at the Salon from 1806 through 1835. He shifted comfortably between a classical and medieval idiom in his historical view paintings such as this one of the castle of Wuflens (also spelled Vufflens) near Geneva in Switzerland. Turpin knew the area well, having visited Switzerland in 1803 and again in 1810 when he traveled there with Josephine for whom he executed a series of paintings and an album of drawings, presently preserved at Malmaison. The castle, which still exists, was built between 1395 and 1430 by Henry of Colombier, vassal of a Savoy Duke. It is an example of military brick architecture with a massive `donjon,’ four square towers, a living area with half-rounded towers, and an interior courtyard.

In this painting Turpin de Crissé combined his interest in architecture with his love of troubadour subject matter, the pageantry of the return of crusader knights to the blessing of Church and home. With its engaging combination of symmetrical architecture and the delicate flurry of detail below, the picture epitomizes the particularly early nineteenth-century confluence of neoclassical style and romantic subject.

[1]Lettres à David, sur le Salon de 1819, par quelques élèves des son école, p. 164: “On lui reconnaît un pinceau exercé, une touche légère et suave; et si ses tableau n’ont point la vérité de Claude Lorrain, ils en ont le charme. Il nous semble que cet artiste a atteint le plus haut degré auquel un amateur puisse prétendre, et ses cinq tableaux nouveaux confirmeront sans doute le jugement que nous en portons.”

18 1/2 by 15 inches
Oil on Canvas

Exhibited: Paris, Salon 1817, no. 730

Where is It?
Stair Sainty Matthiesen
Historical Period
Neoclassicism - 1780-1820 & Romanticism - 1810-1870
1996-Romance and Chivalry: History and Literature reflected in Early Nineteenth Century French Painting.
Hardback book. 300 pages, fully illustrated with 90 colour plates and 100 black and white illustrations. Introduction (40 pages) by Guy Stair Sainty, twelve essays, catalogue, appendix of salons 1801-24 and bibliography. £50 or $80 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
$100,000 - $150,000