Almost certainly Monsieur Hartmann, Paris by 1896
Almost certainly Paris Salon, 1870, no. 130
Literature: A. Estignard, "H. Baron, Sa Vie, Ses Oeuvres", 1896, pp. 47-8: (translated) "In Les Patineurs, Baron presents a mass of beautiful girls on the ice, young men are also involved in the love of skating. With the familiar artifice as a colourist the main composition is filled with multiple groups of people, who for the most part are under the trees formed as an umbrella of voluminous branches. There is an elegant cavalier who helps a pretty girl descend a staircase, there is a young man kneeling as he puts on a skate onto the arched foot of a skater. To the left is a graceful young woman seated in a magnificent and highly carved sledge beside two other skaters. The woman with smiling lips reflects cheerful matters. The distance is all brightly lit. The sun illuminates a small army of skaters, a grand park, magnificent and imposing statues and a superb palace. This contrast produces the best effect. The figures are accentuated with relief and strength of tone that Baron never lost. Once more the master offers proof of a large address and a real talent".
Henri-Charles-Antoine Baron (1816-85)
Oil on canvas, signed H Baron
56 x 80 cm.
Baron's biographer, Estignard listed six paintings all entitled Les Patineurs, executed throughout the 1850's up until 1876. Owner's names were given but only his 1870 Salon exhibit was described in any detail. Judging from its close correlation as well as its size, referred by Estignard as a 'grand tableau' (which was in fact larger than most of Baron's works) it must be assumed that the present work was his 1870 Salon exhibit, which he painted the previous year. Monsieur Beugniet, who had acquired many other works by the artist, owned three other renditions; another was owned by Monsieur Giroux while a fifth was listed without mention of its owner. At the Salon of 1852 Baron exhibited a painting of the same subject and title but of an entirely different composition (measuring 57 x 67 cm; owned by Mme Maracci in 1901) and now housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lille.
Baron specialised in portraying small size but grand-scale idyllic genre scenes often incorporating a large gathering of people at play or making merry. His brilliantly coloured and animated historical scenes were greatly admired by European Society, not least Napoleon III who purchased his Scène de Cabaret (1859, Musée du Louvre, Paris). A number of his pictures were set in Renaissance Venice, in the gardens at Versailles or against an elaborate architectural fantasy. Equally adept in oils as in watercolours (such as his Une Soirée aux Tuileries, Musée National du Château de Compiègne), Baron also executed interior decorations (e.g. for the Ministère de l'Intérieur, 1854-5) and in addition gained acclaim as an illustrator.
He was born in Besançon on 23rd June 1816 and trained under Jean-François Gigoux (1806-94), a Romantic genre, historical and portrait painter who also came from Besançon. Gigoux, Baron and another pupil, the landscape artist François-Louis Français (1814-97) then went on an extensive tour of Italy. Baron returned with a wealth of sketches, which proved a constant inspiration for much of his later work. His first works shown at the Paris Salon in 1837 and '38, painted in collaboration with Français were exhibited under the latter's name. But in 1840 he exhibited under his own: Atelier de Sculpteur and Villa dans le Pays Latin. Other works followed which also paid homage to Italy and in particular to some of its great artists, such as one An Evening with Giorgione (1840) or Andrea del Sarto Peignant la Madone dans le Cloître de l'Annunziata à Florence (1847). Baron continued to exhibit in Paris up until 1878, spending his latter years with his wife, Mlle Bovy (daughter of a medal engraver) in Switzerland where he died in Geneva 13th September 1885.
As an illustrator Baron contributed to a number of books including Honoré de Balzac's La Peau de Chagrin (1838) an edition of Boccaccio's Decameron (1842) and François de la Mothe-Fénelon's Adventures de Télémaque (1846). In addition he collaborated with his friend F.-L. Français and Célestin Nanteuil (1813-73) to produce the three volume edition of Les Artistes Anciens et Modernes (1848-62), a collection of lithographs after works by contemporary artists. His works can be found in numerous French collections including the Musées de Besançon, Carcassonne, Chantilly, Lille, Marseille, Mulhouse, Niort, the Paris Louvre, Pontoise, Reims, as well as Geneva, Stockholm, Sydney and the Clark Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.