Style Napoleon III / Ref.11607
RICARD AUGUSTINE, « Après la chasse » Salon of 1885
Width: 194'' ⅞ 495cm
Height: 138'' ¼ 351cm
This very large painting dated and signed on the right bottom was made by the French artist Augustine Ricard and exhibited in the Salon in 1885 untitled “Après la chasse” (After the hunt), number 2084. It depicts a scene in an old kennel, with the floor covered with straw where stand hunting dogs. From the painting title, the scene takes place after the hunt return, several dogs are hurt et all seem to be exhausted by their run. We can find some elements that show us it was indeed a hunt with hounds such as the horn hanging on the part of the wall with the red bricks, it allows the hunters to communicate with each other and with the dogs, the hunter jacket hung to the beam on the left part of the painting. The subject is well known by the artist whom husband used to hunt with hounds as indicates the Baron de Vaux in an article published in the French newspaper Gil Blas from the 28th of may, 1892 : « Les chiens sont merveilleux, on voit que Madame Ricard connait la chasse et qu'elle est femme d'un veneur » (Dogs are wonderful, we can see that Mrs Richard knows hunt and that she's the wife of a hunter).
If the subject's choice of a hunt with hounds is a common thing in the 19th century paintings and before, the representation of the moment which comes after is not. Indeed, we can very often see paintings depicting the preparation of the action or its proceedings, dogs attacking and biting the game or the representation of hunters on their horses surrounding by dogs. The choice of Augustine Ricard is original by its subjects which shows the behind the scene. This choice allows her to depict a whole new emotion that we can read on the dogs's faces and especially the ones that are facing the spectator. We can only feel compassion. Unfortunately, we don't know much about the artist's life, except that she was born in Paris and has above all made paintings with animal subject and especially dogs. She studies first with Louis Mettling (1847 – 1904) when our painting was made and exhibited in the Salon of 1885, then with Henri Gervex (1852 – 1929), three years later when she exhibits again in the Salon a peacock on a decorative panel.
Augustine Ricard is one of the rarest feminine artist to exhibit in the 19th century Salon. The proportion of women to participate, compared to men, was very low (178 for 801 exhibitors in 1835). Even though the rules were loyal for women - they have the same judges, the same rewards, and the same vote right - mentalities stayed very archaic in the 19th century. Especially, to what concerns the artistic genie by then still synonym of masculine genie. Indeed, as Virginie Demont-Breton said in 1896 : « When one says about a work of art : “it's a women's painting or sculpture”, they means “it's a weak painting or it's a pretty-pretty sculpture” and when one has to judge a serious work made by the imagination and the hand of a woman, they say : “It's painted or sculpted like if it was by a man”. This comparison of two settled expressions is enough to prove, without being necessary to comment it, that there in advance a prejudice against the women's works of art”. Furthermore, we can see, this reality in the comments on our painting published in the newspaper L'Univers Illustré from June, 27th 1885. Other critters allow women to foil their work in the Salon by avoiding to paint in a way qualified as feminine, for instance by preferring oil and by working in large canvas, critters that Augustine Ricard used to create her painting “After the hunt”.
Other works made by the artist were listed thanks to their exhibition in different French Salons, like L'épagneul anglais exhibited in the Salon of Dijon in 1887. Or even, as said earlier, the Peacock, decorative panel, exhibited in the Salon of Paris in 1888. Les meutes was exhibited in the dogs exhibition of Paris in 1890, exhibition during which in addition to the dogs presence was added an exhibition of paintings and bronze depicting relative subjects. We find also another track of our painting exhibited in the dog exhibition of 1892, in the newspaper Gil Blas from May, 28th 1892 : “At the bottom of the room a very nice work of Mrs Augustine Ricard, made with a very sure brush and a good draw. Dogs are wonderful, we see that Mrs Richard knows the hunt and that she's a hunter's wife.” written by Baron de Vaux.
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