Jean Bardin, the sacred fire

This artist does infinitely better in his drawn sketches. [1] “. Some of his contemporaries had a lucid look at Jean Bardin, close in any case to what we have when visiting this very interesting retrospective at the Orleans Museum of Fine Arts. He indeed reveals a great artist, but a great artist in the small: his drawings and painted sketches are worthy of the best painters of the 18th century while his large paintings, without being mediocre, are a bit disappointing.This can be seen in particular when the exhibition juxtaposes the preparatory works with the final paintings, As the Mars leaving the arms of Venus to go to Troyhis reception piece at the Academy, the sketch for which was approved but never submitted, no one quite knows why.


1. Juan Bardin (1732-1809)

Tullie driving her cart over

his father’s body
(sketch), 1765

Oil on canvas – 45 x 55 cm

Orleans, Museum of Fine Arts

Photo: Didier Rykner

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2. Juan Bardin (1732-1809)

Tullie passing her car

over his father’s body
1765

Oil on canvas – 114 x 145.5 cm

Mainz, Landesmuseum Mainz

Photo: Didier Rykner

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Let’s be clear: Bardin is not a bad painter, he also won the Grand Prix de l’Académie in 1765, with Tullie driving her cart over her father’s body (the. 1 and 2), notably ahead of Ménageot (the. 3) and Berthelemy (the. 4) – who were honored in the following years. The comparison between the three works that the exhibition allows shows that this prize was not usurped: Bardin’s painting is excellent. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why his subsequent paintings were less attractive. However, these few criticisms should not hide the great success of a retrospective that every lover of 18th century French painting should visit. It covers the painter’s career, confronting him with the production of some of his contemporaries, allowing us to understand a hitherto little-known artist. Nothing surprising in addition: his works were exhibited very rarely, as evidenced by reading the catalog where it is mentioned ” unpublished ” Y ” never exhibited » are found in abundance.


3. François-Guillaume Menageot (1744-1816)

Tullie driving her cart over her father’s body1765

Oil on canvas – 113 x 146 cm

Nancy, Museum of Fine Arts

Photo: Didier Rykner

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4.Jean Simeon Barthélemy (1743-1811)

Tullie driving her cart over her father’s body1765

Oil on canvas – 112 x 142 cm

Private collection

Photo: Didier Rykner

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Why Bardin in Orléans? The artist was born in Montbard and made his career first in Paris. After having been a student of Louis Lagrenée, he became a student of Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre when his first teacher…

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