- Linda Whiteley
French actor and collector. He was the son of a well-known baker in Boulogne-sur-Mer and from an early age a friend of the painter Jean-Charles Cazin, who painted a view of the Coquelin bakery (1879; Samer, Mus. Cazin). Ernest and his brother Constant Coquelin went to Paris and established careers as actors. From 1878 to 1909 Ernest was a member of the Comédie-Française and was known for his delivery of drawing-room monologues. He was a frequent visitor to the home of the wealthy socialite Nina de Callias (1844–84), whose portrait (c. 1874; Paris, Mus. d’Orsay) was painted by Manet. Coquelin met Manet and Cézanne at her salon, which was frequented by poets and painters. During the 1870s he began to collect Impressionist paintings and in 1879 loaned one of Degas’s paintings of laundresses (England, priv. col.) to the fourth Impressionist exhibition. His friendship with Cazin must have encouraged his interest in painting, and probably formed his taste, and 20 landscapes by Cazin were included in a sale of Coquelin’s works (Chevallier, Paris, 27 May 1893), as well as four by Alfred Sisley. Coquelin may have appreciated the understated naturalism of Sisley’s paintings, as he certainly admired Cazin’s pale and delicate work. Through his friendship with the actor-manager Aurélien Lugné-Poë he moved into the circle of artists associated with the Revue blanche and became one of Edouard Vuillard’s first patrons, commissioning from him portraits, drawings and watercolours of stage-sets. Vuillard also painted several watercolour studies of him (e.g. c. 1890; John Russell col.), and he was also depicted by Toulouse-Lautrec.
- S. Monneret: L’Impressionnisme et son époque, 2 vols (Paris, 1980–81)
- The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing, 1830–1900 (exh. cat., ed. G. P. Weisberg; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.; New York, Brooklyn Mus.; St Louis, MO, A. Mus.; Glasgow, A.G. & Mus.; 1980–81)