Chris Rogers | Writer on architecture and visual culture
I discovered this beautiful, sensitive portrait in exactly the right way; hanging on a wall in the Louvre, on my very first visit to Paris. It was slightly too high to get a square-on view or photograph (with a camera, then, that used film) but certainly low enough to appreciate it. The astonishingly quiet, ‘real’ image is that of Lariviere’s younger sister, Eugénie-Paméla; touchingly, artist predeceased sitter by a year, with neither sibling living to twenty-five. The poignancy seemed fitting for such a delicate, loving rendering, even without its slight resemblance to someone from my own past.
Lariviere came from a family of artists – his father, older brother and grandfather were all painters. Both sons were sent to study under Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, himself a pupil of David, at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in the French capital. Already illness stalked his life, preventing him from entering an important competition though exempting him from military service.
The Louvre acquired the painting in 1909 with a bequest from another painter, Albert Maignan, a relative by marriage of the family. He donated other works by the brothers to the Musee de Picardie in Amiens where they remain today.
Oil on canvas, 65cm x 53cm, Musée du Louvre (image Meisterdrucke.uk)
a work in 200 words