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Le Paon Revestu

CAT 179 Lillot aftr Monginot Le Paon Revestu Salon 1879 L'Art BA 207.jpg

CAT 179. Engraved by Lillot after drawing by Charles Monginot after his own painting Le Paon Revestu. In “La Peinture au Salon de Paris, 1879,” L’Art 5 (1879): 191.

Charles Monginot (1825-1900) was a painter and engraver of diverse subjects who lived and worked in Paris and summered at Dienville. He studied with Thomas Couture, made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1850, won a medal at the Salon in 1864, amd won his last medal in 1899. His decorative paintings, still lifes, and animal portraits are “executed with an appealing, non-academic realism and sincerity” What exactly did Monginot mean by the title he gave to his painting of three musicians blowing a fanfare for a young woman dressed in breezy white who holds up a platter bearing a living pheasant in the style of a gargantuan hat? Literally, Le Paon Revestu means The Pheasant Redressed. The commentator for L’Art does not help with any symbolic meaning the painting  might have, saying only that it is “very decorative”—and that he much prefers the Monginot’s other entry in this year’s Salon, Groseilles (red currants or gooseberries) (p. 184).

In 1883 Le Paon Revestu reappeared as a full-page illustration for an essay on “Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs” in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts (v. 27: 453). This engraving after a drawing by L. Libonis contrasts sharply with the drawing Monginot had made from his own painting for L’Art.  Libonis draws the musicians and the pheasant with a much denser crosshatching, making the gauzy white blowing from the body of the young woman much brighter and lighter.

Monginot in the twenty-first century is perhaps best known for having lent the sword that Manet depicted in his painting and etching of Boy with a Sword when they were both studying with Couture (see CAT 174). In 1850, Monginot painted a portrait of William Morris Hunt, the young American painter who was then studying with Couture, and who studied extensively with Jean-François Millet before establishing himself as a leading landscape and portrait painter in Boston; Monginot’s portrait of Hunt entered the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in 1988. In 1937 the Walter Art Museum in Baltimore acquired Monginot’s Two Monkeys with Books, Viola, and Tambourine (fig. 1), a mixed media drawing in the manner of Decamps (see CAT 172; fig. 3).

CAT 179 fig 1 monginot monkey with books viola and tambourine.jpg

Figure 1. Charles Monginot. Two Monkeys with Books, Viola, and Tambourine, watercolor with graphite and white chalk, c. 1860. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.