René d'Anjou Chez Palamède de Forbin
(Pierre Révoil)


Although Fleury Richard is generally regarded as the leader of the troubadour school, the nickname — “Révoil brothers” — given to Richard and his fellow Lyonnais Révoil, suggests Révoil’s dominance. He entered the studio of J.-L. David in 1795 and by 1810 he was exhibiting pictures in the newly popular “genre anecdotique,” scenes from history depicted from an intimate perspective. Révoil’s loyalist politics made him particularly sympathetic to the lives of past kings. He had an antiquarian interest in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance which enabled him to fill his pictures with the kind of detail that fascinated his contemporaries; in addition to a library, Révoil had a collection of objects in his “cabinet de gothicités” that he sold in 1828 to the Musée Royal.

The painting was commissioned in 1820 by Count Auguste de Forbin, the director of the royal museums and a friend of the artist, who had seen a sketch Révoil did of this subject in 1811. Aside from his enthusiastic support of the troubadour style of painting, which he himself practiced, Forbin was particularly interested in this subject because King René’s host, Palamède, was his ancestor. It was Forbin’s hope that the painting be exhibited in the Salon and purchased by the state. The painting was purchased by the Maison du Roi for 3000 francs in 1828. In February 1829, however, its purchase was postponed due to budgetary constraints and the comte de Forbin subsequently assisted in finding another buyer for the painting.The fifteenth-century subject of the picture was described in the 1827 Salon livret: “The good king René [King of Sicily and cousin of French King Charles VI] traveling through his estates in Provence, spent the night in the château de La Barben. In the morning, before leaving his hosts, he testified that he was satisfied with their reception and traced on the door of the vestibule his portrait with the inscription below: Sicelidum regis effigies est ita Renati [This is the effigy of René, King of Sicily]. Palamède threw himself at the feet of the King to thank him for this sign of favor. Jean de Matheron, chamberlain of the prince, and Jean de Cossa, his seneschal, awaited the signal of departure.” Révoil has transformed this subject into a charming depiction of a renaissance household. The group of the king and his aristocratic subject is silhouetted by the beautiful morning sunlight, illuminating the delicate pastel shades of his hosts’ costumes and a stained glass lunette above the door containing the family’s arms. In the faces of his figures, we may note the influence of 16th century northern painting, but in the palette the artist is following contemporary French taste. The story no doubt enchanted both Révoil and Forbin for its recognition of the importance of visual historical documentation and of a king with artistic interests. This is the last important commission exhibited by the artist who ended his career as an influential teacher.

32 x 41 1/2 inches (83 x 105 cm.)
Oil on canvas

Provenance: Royal Commission, 1820; acquired by the Maison du Roi 3000 francs, 1828; purchase postponed before payment Feb 1829, and sold to an unknown collector; Vente Forbin-Janson, 4 dec. 1906, Paris, Drouot, S.1, no. 53. Bt. by Révoil, ambassador to Berne (a collateral member of the family of the artist), to 1972; Private Collection, France.


Literature: A. Jal, Esquisses, croquis, pochades ou Tout ce que l’on voudra sur le Salon de 1827, Paris, 1828, p. 350; M. Audin and E. Vial, Dictionnaire des artistes et ouvriers d’art du lyonnais, 1919, t. 2, p. 163; Marie-Claude Chaudonneret, La Peinture Troubadour, Paris, 1980, cat. no. 35, p. 140-141; Romance and Chivalry: History and Literature Reflected in Early Nineteenth Century French Painting, pp. 66, 67, 82-85, 203-204,222; figs. 45, 53, 144 & cover.


Related works: Révoil, René d’Anjou chez Palamède de Forbin (Chaudonneret, op. cit., cat. no. 10); Révoil, Armoiries de Nodon Bardebin (Chaudonneret, op. cit., cat. no. 77).

Where is It?
Acquired by a Private Collector
Historical Period
Neoclassicism - 1780-1820 & Romanticism - 1810-1870
Historical events
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.

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Price band
Sold or not available