Alexandre Denis ABEL DE PUJOL

(Valenciennes 1787 - Paris 1861)

A Woman Abducted by a Mounted Arab Warrior

Black chalk, brown wash and touches of watercolour, backed.
Inscribed or signed Abel at the lower right.
Further inscribed Enlévement d’Hélène. Vivandiere / au 17 Léger (chevaux Arabes). on the old backing sheet.
259 x 252 mm. (10 1/4 x 9 7/8 in.) at greatest dimensions.
As the inscription on the former backing sheet notes, this drawing depicts the kidnapping of a vivandière named Hélène by an Arab horseman. The term vivandière was used to refer to camp-followers; women who accompanied the army into battle, serving mainly as cooks, laundresses and nurses. 

Stylistically reminiscent of the work of Abel de Pujol’s contemporaries Carle (1758-1836) and Horace Vernet (1789-1863), the present sheet was until recently mounted and used as a handheld fan. An identical composition is found in a slightly larger drawing attributed to Horace Vernet; one of a pair of pencil and watercolours which appeared on the London art market in 1975.
 


The illegitimate son of Mortry de Pujol, founder of the Académie de Peinture et Sculpture in Valenciennes, Alexandre-Denis Abel studied there before completing his training in the studio of Jacques-Louis David in Paris. He won a 1st class medal at the Académie in 1806 and another medal at the Salon of 1810 for a painting of Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph. In 1811 Abel won the Prix de Rome, after which he was formally recognized by his father and was able to add the name Pujol to his own. As a result of poor health, Abel was only able to study in Italy for eight months, but resumed his career in Paris with much success. A painting of The Death of Brittanicus won gold medals from Napoleon and Louis XVIII in 1814, while a painting of The Stoning of Saint Stephen, intended for the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, was similarly successful at the Salon of 1817, and established his reputation. Abel continued to produce paintings, altarpieces and designs for stained-glass windows for Parisian churches throughout his career, including at Saint-Sulpice, Notre-Dame, the Madeleine and elsewhere. He was also in great demand as a painter of public mural decorations, often in grisaille, for the Palais du Louvre, the Bourse, the Palais de Luxembourg and elsewhere.

Provenance

Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s South Kensington, 25 April 2007, lot 416
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art, London, in 2008
Private collection, New York
Thence by descent.
 

Alexandre Denis ABEL DE PUJOL

A Woman Abducted by a Mounted Arab Warrior