Louis Antoine Collas is undoubtedlyone of the most outstanding French miniature painters of the first half of the XIX century. It is ironically, but his art heritage is absolutely unknown in France and on the other hand it is lavishly divided between such a dissimilar art schools as Russian and American.
Originally from Bordeaux he was trained in Paris under François-André Vincent who was a chief rival of Jacques-Louis David. Unlike the art language of David, the style of Vincent was more vivid and delicate. Young Collas was succeed in absorbing the mature manner of his tutor and debuted in the 1798 Salon with a self-portrait. In the next Salon he had already presented his own firs works in miniature. Tempting to suppose that the interest for miniature in art of Collas was formed under the influence of Vincent’s wife, a fashionable painter Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.
The royalist sympathy of Vincent and his wife, close associated with Mesdames de France, had a deep influence on the young painter. In 1803 Collas decided to move to Russia, to Sankt-Petersburg and soon he received the acknowledgment of the Russian Court. Shortly before that, another pupil of Vincent, the talented Russian miniaturist Augustin Ritt had also returned to Petersburg and found an extremely high Imperial protection. Unlike the other French painters who worked in Russia, like Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, Jean-Laurent Mosnier or Jean-Louis Voille – Collas was formed as a painter in 1790s, after great art reforms entertained in the French Academy by David. He brought to Russia a very modern French art manner, very vivid and informal. He successfully worked in Petersburg till the beginning of the war with Napoleon in 1812. He had great influence on the court painters associated with the intimate circle around the young Czar Alexander I. Among his most successive disciples was young Alois Gustav Rockstuhl who made numerous copies of Collas’ work.
After the short stay in France he moved to the New Orleans where he received a reputation of the best miniature painter. His impact on the new-born American art school and particularly miniature painting was one of more essential. Surely, he lacked patrons of the scale of the Grand Dukes but he received a chance to develop his own delicate and independent style.
The Portrait of a Gentleman Seating at a Table dated 1800. For this portrait Collas used a portrait formula that was common in the French art in the circle of David. Much popularized with his splendid portrait of Lavoisier and his wife, presenting state man at work, it reflects a new understanding of a personality, based on the ideas of the French Revolution.
|School:||French , Russian|