|Collection||Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth|
|Artist||Landelle, Charles (French, 1821-1908)|
|Description||Judith by Charles Landelle, one of the most successful French artists of his age, was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1887. It is uncertain when the painting entered the Russell-Cotes collection. However, as an old photograph testifies, Sir Merton Russell-Cotes must have held the work in high esteem as he hung it in a prominent position in the entrance hall to his home East Cliff Hall. In keeping with Russell-Cotes' taste, this exotic painting's subject aptly combines two meanings. While Judith was widely regarded as a symbol of womanly virtue, from the Renaissance (a period Landelle was particularly interested in) Judith also came to be regarded as an allegory of man's misfortunes at the hands of scheming woman. In this painting, as an early curator of the museum describes her: §Judith is represented as a magnificent woman standing like a pillar, fierce as a panther; with eyes dark and penetrating, beautiful yet cruel in expression.§ Her story is drawn from the Old Testament apocryphal book, Judith, in which she is described as rich Jewish widow, who in an act of selfless patriotism saved her city of Bethulia, which was under siege by the Assyrian army. By posing as a turn-coat, dressed §so as to catch the eye of any man§, Judith gained the confidence of the enemy General Holofernese, who after a banquet in her honour planned to seduce her. However, being overcome by alcohol he collapsed on his bed, vulnerable to his fate. Landelle represents Judith drawing back the bed's curtain and clasping the sword with which she §smote him twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took away his head.§|
|Current Accession Number||BORGM 01244|
|Former Accession Number||21|
|Inscription||front ll 'Ch. Landelle'|
|Subject||religion (Judith); figure|
|Measurements||142.3 x 101.5 cm cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on canvas|
|Acquisition Details||Bequeathed by Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, 1908.|
|Principal Exhibitions||Salon, Paris, 1887; P. J. Duff, Islington House, Puddletown, Dorset, n.d.|
|Publications||Vapereau, G., Dictionnaire Universel des Contemporains, 6th edn, Paris, 1893, p. 916; Art Journal, 1895, p. 282, ill. p. 281; Russell-Cotes, Sir Merton, Home and Abroad, 2 vols, Bournemouth, 1922, ill. p. 722; Quick, R., Catalogue of the Pictures and Sculpture in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, 1923, p. 11, no. 21; Quick, R., The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth: Illustrated Souvenir, 1924, ill. p. 18; Bulletin of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, vol. 7, no. 3, September 1928, p. 30, ill. front page; Cowling, M., ‘Art in the Age of Queen Victoria', Art in the Age of Queen Victoria: A Wealth of Depictions, ed. by M. Bills, Bournemouth, 2001, pp. 20-21, cat. 7.|
Charles Landelle was born at Laval but lived in Paris from 1825. Through his father's contacts with the Orleans court, Charles met Ary Schaffer who encouraged him to become a painter. In October 1837 he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Paul Delaroche. In 1841 Landelle made his debut at the Paris Salon with Self portrait and in 1842 he received a third class medal for his painting Fra Angelico asking God for Inspiration. This painting was to mark a life long interest in religious and allegorical works, inspired by early Italian Renaissance painting. These were to prove successful both with the public and with state commissioning bodies. By 1848 he was awarded a first class medal for Saint Cécile and in 1855 he was awarded the Legion of Honour.
In 1844 Landelle entered into a contract with the dealer Goupil giving him first refusal on the reproduction rights of all his future works. In 1845 he travelled to Italy to study the early Renaissance masters. The effect of this tour is reflected in the numerous public commissions he was subsequently awarded. These include works for the Parisian churches St Nicholas-des-Champs (1845-48), St Roch (1850), St Germain (1856) and St Sulpice (1875), as well as allegorical paintings such as La Renaissance for the Salle des Bijoux at the Louvre (1853), works for the Palais de l'Élysée (1859), the Salon des Arts of the Emperor (1859) and the magnificent Droit Moderne for the municipal hall of his native town of Laval (1885). Along side these official commissions Landelle produced a stream of pictures of beautiful women throughout his career.
Landelle made his first journey to Tangiers and Morocco in 1853. This was to prove a decisive journey. With the introduction of oriental subject matter into his repertoire, Landelle was to achieve his greatest popularity. In 1866 he visited Morocco a second time with Napoleon III's embassy to the court of the Sultan of Fez. Here he painted Femme fellah, exhibited at the Salon that year and purchased by the Emperor. The success of the painting was such that he produced 23 copies of the work between 1866 and 1885 to fulfil the demands of collectors, earning for himself the epithet of ‘peintre des fellahs'. Concentrating on his sales, in later years Landelle continued to turn to the orient for his subject matter, travelling to Egypt and Palestine in 1875-76 and visiting Algeria in 1885, 1888, 1889 and every subsequent winter until 1894. With the backing of Goupil, Landelle's paintings achieved exorbitant prices. Their widespread diffusion in public and private collections throughout the world testifies to the artist's success.
|Rights Owner||Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth|