Victor Baltard (1805-1874). Iron and Paintbrush

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At the Ecole des beaux-arts

Victor BaltardAutoportrait© Musée d'Orsay / Patrice Schmidt
According to Charles Garnier, Victor Baltard could have become "an excellent doctor or a remarkable politician, a scientist or a manufacturer, a poet or a merchant". Louis-Pierre Baltard encouraged him to become an architect.
So, in 1824, Victor joined the architecture section of the École des beaux-arts and completed his training in the studios of his father, of François Debret and of the celebrated neoclassical architect Charles Percier, a friend of the family.

Following the example of Louis-Pierre, who drew, painted and engraved as much as he built, the young Victor also joined the painting section of the École and followed the teaching given in the studio of the painter Guillon-Lethière, a friend of his father. During these years of training, he became particularly close to the architect Paul Lequeux, who he met in his father's studio.
He married his sister Adeline, after obtaining the most prestigious award from the École in 1833: the Prix de Rome, guaranteeing him a brilliant professional future.

In Rome with Ingres

Victor BaltardVue de la Villa Médicis au soleil couchant et levant© Musée d'Orsay / Patrice Schmidt
Thanks to the stipend granted to winners of the Prix de Rome, Baltard stayed in the Eternal City with his wife from March 1834 until October 1838. He befriended members of the French artistic community residing in the Villa Médicis, particularly the musician Ambroise Thomas, the painter Hippolyte Flandrin and the sculptor Charles Simart.

When Ingres arrived in Rome in 1835 to manage the Villa, he became very close to him. The painter gave him some delicate tasks, decorating his painting Antiochus and Stratonice and recording the ornaments surrounding the frescoes for the Loges from Raphaël. But most of his time was devoted to archaeological studies to be sent to the Académie.
Because of the importance of the friendships he entered into in Rome and the influence of the buildings that he then studied, Baltard's Italian stay would mark the rest of his career.

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