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Donald A. Rosenthal

(b El Limón, nr Samaná [now in the Dominican Republic], Sept 20, 1819; d Paris, Oct 8, 1856).

French painter and printmaker (see fig.). In 1822 Chassériau moved with his family to Paris, where he received a bourgeois upbringing under the supervision of an older brother. A precociously gifted draughtsman, he entered Ingres’s studio at the age of 11 and remained there until Ingres left to head the Académie de France in Rome in 1834. He made his Salon début in 1836 with several portraits and religious subjects, including Cain Accursed (Paris, priv. col.), for which he received a third-class medal. Among his many submissions in subsequent years were Susanna Bathing (1839, exh. Salon 1839; Paris, Louvre), a Marine Venus (1838; exh. Salon 1839; Paris, Louvre) and the Toilet of Esther (1841, exh. Salon 1842; Paris, Louvre); these three paintings of nude female figures combine an idealization derived from Ingres with a sensuality characteristic of Chassériau.

By 1840–41, when Chassériau rejoined Ingres in Rome, he had begun to turn away from his teacher’s linear stylization. He became increasingly critical of the academic curriculum and passed his time making sketches of the Italian countryside and studying Renaissance frescoes, which later influenced his approach to painting monumental decorations. His best easel paintings of the early 1840s, the portraits of the Dominican friar ...