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Achille Etna Michallon

Achille Etna Michallon (born October 22, 1796 in Paris, and died in the same city on September 24, 1822) was a French painter. Michallon was the son of the sculptor Claude Michallon. He studied under Jacques-Louis David and Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes. In 1817, Michallon won the inaugural Prix de Rome for landscape painting. He travelled to Italy in 1818 and remained there for over two years. This trip had a profound influence on his work. Before he had much time to develop what he had learned however, he died at the age of 25 of pneumonia, a tragedy which cut short the life of a talented and well respected artist who could have gone on to win lasting fame. Though it is often disputed, it is thought that at one time, Corot was his pupil.

Achille-Etna Michallon is the son of the sculptor Claude Michallon (1751-1799) and Marie-Madeleine Cuvillon, daughter-in-law of the sculptor Guillaume Francin, son of Claude-Clair Francin. After the death of his mother, in 1813, he was raised by his uncle, Guillaume Francin. He is one of the tenants of the historical landscape of the years 1780-1830. In 1817 he was the first laureate of the Rome Prize for Historic Landscape, instituted in 1816 at the instigation of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, of which he was a pupil. He also studied in the workshop of Jacques-Louis David. Antoine Guindrand is his pupil, as well as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot who took from his master the attachment to light, the construction of space and the rejection of the anecdotal.

In 1808 a rich prince, Nikolai Borissovich Yusupov (1750-1831), admired a picture of Michallon in David’s studio, nicknamed him “little Poussin” and gave him a pension until the disaster in Moscow Reduced the fortune of the prince.

Wanting to take his young protégé to Italy to make him discover the treasures, he was opposed by his mother, finding him too young for the expedition.

In 1812, Michallon began his career at the Salon, where he exhibited in 1819 and 1822, when he sent three paintings. He was awarded a gold medal, and was a gold medalist in the Douai competition. In 1816 he went to Rome, a pensioner of the King, crossed Switzerland, Lombardy, passed through Florence before arriving in Rome, where his father had come a few years before. He descended to Naples and was subdued by the work of Salvator Rosa.

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In 1817 Michallon was awarded a prize created especially for him at the insistence of his teachers. The prestigious honor allowed the young artist to spend the next two years in Italy, where he painted numerous outdoor sketches such as this one. The falls at Tivoli were a favorite of foreign artists visiting Italy. Michallon used loose brushwork and a luminous palette to render his view of the countryside. The goatherd gazing at the famous waterfalls represents a much more informal technique and subject than the dramatic themes Michallon attempted in his larger, historical landscape paintings.

His prize in Rome earned him an official commission for the Galerie de Diane in Fontainebleau: La Mort de Roland. Back in France in 1820, he opened his own studio, where he counts Corot among his pupils, with whom he goes to the forest of Fontainebleau to paint on the motif. Although neo-classical painter, Michallon is considered one of the precursors of the school of Barbizon.

On returning from a stay at Marlotte, having gone to the Jardin des Plantes to study a cedar, he felt himself seized by a sore throat which soon descended on his chest. Death prevailed in the night of September 23-24, 1822.
The Duchesse de Berry and the Viscount Alexandre-Émile Lespine were her most fervent admirers. The succession of Princess Louis de Croÿ and Viscount Lespine is a source of information on the works of this artist.

Chantilly, musée Condé: View of the town and the Gulf of Salerno, circa 1817-1822.
Le Puy-en-Velay, Crozatier Museum: Study of tree trunks, after Ruysdaël.
Montpellier, musée Fabre: Landscape with Philoctetes in the island of Lemnos, 1822.
National High School of Fine Arts: Democritus and the Abdéritains, 1817, prize of Rome.
Louvre Museum :
Landscape of Frascati, 1822, purchase of Louis XVIII;
The Death of Roland at Roncevaux, 1819;
Man draped in red: inhabitant of Frascatti;
The Woman Stunned.
Reims, Museum of Fine Arts: Moulin de la Cuve.
Strasbourg, musée des beaux-arts: Landscape with the death of Roland.