Eugène-Louis LAMI (Paris, 1800 - Paris, 1890)
After spending some time in the studio of Horace Vernet, Eugène Lami entered the studio of Baron Gros at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1817. Among his fellow pupils were Paul Delaroche and Richard Parkes Bonington, both of whom were to have an influence on his work. Although he painted military subjects in the early part of his career, notably thirteen battle scenes for Versailles executed between 1824 and 1838, Lami made his reputation as a watercolourist and a master in the depiction of elegant society. His appointment in 1832 as court painter to Louis-Philippe at Versailles gave him the opportunity to draw many scenes of formal and informal court life. He made his first visit to London in 1826, in the company of Camille Rocqueplan, and returned to England between 1848 and 1852, when he followed Louis-Philippe into exile. While in England Lami continued to produce watercolour scenes of the life of the fashionable society of London and the court of Queen Victoria, and sent a constant stream of work back to Paris to be exhibited at the Salons. (Lami was himself something of a fashionable character, and Charles Baudelaire noted of him that he was ‘the poet of dandyism, almost English in his love of things aristocratic’.) Among his other major patrons were Prince Anatole Demidoff, who described the artist as ‘one of my good friends and one of the most distinguished French painters of our times’, and Baron James de Rothschild, for whom Lami acted as an artistic advisor, planning and supervising the decoration of the Rothschild chateaux at Boulogne and Ferrières. A founding member of the Société des Aquarellistes Français in 1879, Lami continued to work prolifically until his death. Significant groups of his drawings are today in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.