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Théodore Chassériau

1819 Santa Domingo
1856 Paris

The painter Théodore Chassériau was one of the leading figures of Romantic Classicism. He was born 20th September 1819 in Samaná, Santo Domingo in South America. He began his artistic career at a young age, becoming a student of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres at the age of 11.
This influenced Théodore Chassériau’s work and his preference for drawing and modelling instead of using colour. When Ingres moved to Rome in 1834, Chassériau was still too young to follow him and apply for a scholarship. Théodore Chassériau was still highly dependent on Ingres, but his skillful use of colour far surpassed that of his teacher. In 1840, he visited Ingres in Rome and he realised that they now had less in common.
During the following years, Chassériau became increasingly influenced by the work of Eugène Delacroix, whose generous use of colour stood in stark contrast to Ingres'. These two very different role models, influenced Théodore Chassériau’s style and their influence is clearly visible in his work.
In 1846 Chassériau spent two months in Algeria, where Delacroix had studied the ambience and colours of the Orient 14 years previously. The impressions gained from these travels flowed into Chassériaus pictorial language. The artist contributed towards the spread of Orientalism. Théodore Chassériau was well known in his time for his historical scenes and portraits, such as "The Two Sisters" (1843). His main works include various murals, which he executed for Parisian churches, and oriental scenes. The French government gave Théodore Chassériau a large number of commissions, which awarded him the Legion D’honneur in 1849.
Théodore Chassériau died in Paris on 8th October 1856, at the age of 37.

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