Jean-Richard Goubie (1842-1899)
"Le Merchand aux Chevaux"
Oil on canvas, signed
61 x 53.5 cm.
The main subjects of Jean-Richard Goubie's paintings were animals - especially horses, which he portrayed with careful observation, anatomical accuracy and with obvious delight. Goubie painted a number of highly successful society pictures showing men and women out hunting or simply enjoying a ride in the countryside. His scenes included farm workers tending their animals, people feeding birds at the zoo as well as a society picnic beside horses in 'Lunch in the Ruins of the Hunaudaye' (Salon 1879). Less common, but undoubtedly more desirable were his paintings of horses based on his travels to the Middle East. The present work, which is certainly rare in his oeuvre, is one of his finest pieces. The subject, as well as the accurate draughtsmanship and smooth brushwork reflects the influence of his friend and tutor, the great historical and Orientalist painter, Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), with whom Goubie travelled to Egypt and Asia Minor in 1868.
Goubie was born on 12th January 1842 in Paris, where he died 57 years later. He was one of many pupils to study under Gérôme, after the latter's appointment as Professor at l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris in 1863. Gérôme's influence at the school was extensive, where his wit, lax discipline but clear-cut teaching methods made him a popular and well-respected master. Goubie's talent and presumably his character evidently mutually impressed Gérôme, who invited Goubie to join him and seven other travellers on a painting expedition to Egypt and Asia Minor. The group included another fellow student, Paul Lenoir, the realist painter, Léon Bonnat, two journalists, a doctor and another friend. Gérôme also invited his brother-in-law, Albert Goupil, an amateur photographer and son of the renowned dealer and print editor. It was presumably through this connection that Goupil & Cie later published a series of Goubie's pictures with an accompanying verse of poetry, as part of the 'Goupil Illustrations to the French Salons 1873-79'.
Gérôme's expedition to the East set off in January 1868, returning in April that year. From Marseilles they travelled to Alexandria and then to Cairo. Their trip took in Giza, the Nile, Suez and Mount Sinai. While Goupil took photographs, Goubie, along with fellow artists would have made many notes and detailed sketches. From these he would have worked up his finished oils in his Paris studio, of which the present work as well as another of water buffalo, dated 1869, was one. Painted soon after his return, it captures all the romance and heat of the East. Goubie focuses upon his favourite subject, detailing the anatomy of the Arab horses as they stand patiently under the glare of the burning sun. The work is carefully composed with the four and two further mounted horses in the distance, set against the simple dwellings and the monumental palm trees and azure sky. Goubie also includes birds, probably storks and a dog that waits beside the horse dealer seated in the shade.
In 1869, the year after his eastern expedition, Goubie made his debut at the Paris Salon, where he continued to exhibit until 1893, winning a 3rd class medal in 1874. Goubie's work was and is much appreciated by American clientele, for instance his painting 'The Prize for the Hunt' (Salon 1872) was painted for James H. Stebbins of New York. The work is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York while another by him entitled 'Chevaux et Personnages' is housed at Cincinnati Museum