(Paris 1800 - Paris 1890)
The Horse L’Eclatant in a Stable
Signed and dated EUGÈNE LAMI. / 1839. in red gouache at the lower left.
Inscribed Le cadre / seulement and Aquarelle de Lamy / (se trouvait au cheau de Savignat / chez Mme Hippolyte Carnot / rapportée en 1920 à la mort / de M. Adolphe Carnot son fils / chez Mme Henri Perret Carnot / à Beaune on the backing board.
380 x 456 mm. (15 x 18 in.)
The horse depicted in this watercolour, as well as the related painting and lithograph, may perhaps be identified as ‘L’Eclatant I’, a horse belonging to the Emperor Napoleon. During his imperial reign of a decade, between 1804 and 1814, Napoleon had around a hundred horses for his personal use, some of which died under him in various battles. Described as a ‘Norman gelding, silvery wine-grey’, ‘L’Eclatant I’ was retired from service in 1814.
Among stylistically comparable drawings in watercolour and gouache by Lami are a similar study of a horse in a stable, signed and dated 1824, which was sold at auction in London in 1998, and another of a horse in a landscape that appeared at auction in Paris in 2003.
The first recorded owner of this watercolour, according to the inscription on the backing board, was Mme. Hippolyte Carnot (1816-1897), who lived at the Château de Savignat in Chabanais, in the département of Charente. However, she may perhaps have inherited the work from her father, François Dupont de Savignat (1769-1846), who served as inspecteur general des haras. The watercolour later passed to her son, the chemist and mining engineer Adolphe Carnot (1813-1920), and thence to his daughter, Marguerite Carnot, Mme. Henri Perret (1867-1957).
Lami 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 he continued to produce watercolour scenes 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 stylish character, and as Charles Baudelaire noted of him, he was ‘the poet of dandyism, almost English in his love of things aristocratic.’)
Among his other significant 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. He was a gifted illustrator and lithographer, and in 1879 was one of the founding members of the Société des Aquarellistes Français. Lami continued to work prolifically until his death in 1890, a few weeks shy of his ninety-first birthday. Significant groups of his drawings and watercolours are today in the collections of the Musée Condé in Chantilly, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Louvre and in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.
His daughter, Claire Jeanne Marie Dupont, Mme. Louis-Hippolyte Carnot, Château de Savignat, Chabanais
By descent to her son, Marie-Adolphe Carnot, Paris, until 1920
By descent to his daughter, Marie Marguerite Jeanne Carnot, Mme. Henri Perret, Beaune
Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 13 June 2014, lot 43.