September 20, 2019 9:08 am Published by

(Paris 1788 – 1859 Paris)

Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé was born into a distinguished military family of ancient origin, successive generations of which had fought in the service of the Crown, holding the post of Royal Chamberlain to Charles V, Charles VI, Charles VII and François I. He inherited from his father a talent for painting and, thanks to the generosity of the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, was sent to Switzerland (1802-3) and Italy (1807-8). The profound effect that the latter journey had on him is described in his Lettre au conservateur de ses collections (Angers, 1937, pp. 7-8): “On my first journey to Italy (1807-8) – a mere boy, penniless painter, happy at seeing at last this longed-for country, but compelled to fulfil certain obligations, having only a limited amount of time and money at my disposal, I was driven to make as many painted studies and drawings sur le motif as possible; it was an indispensable harvest, a precious collection of material to be exploited in the future.” Upon his return to France he was welcomed into Napoloen’s court as the protégé of Queen Hortense and later of the Empress Jospehine, to whom he became chamberlain in 1809 and through whom he gained access to other members of the Imperial family who collected paintings. In 1810 he accompanied the Empress to Switzerland and Savoy, returning with an album of 33 sepia drawings (Malmaison).

Despite his service to the Empress, Turpin de Crissé remained an ardent royalist, staunchly loyal to the Bourbons in exile, for which he was rewarded in 1816 with nomination to the Academy, membership of the Council of the Royal Museums, and the appointment, in 1824, as Inspector-General of the Fine Arts. In this period he also continued to travel: he was in Switzerland in 1816 and then returned to Italy twice in 1818 and 1824. On the first of these two trips he visited Rome where he met Ingres, who drew in pencil both his portrait and that of his wife, Adelè de Lesparda (a pupil of Pierre-Joseph Redouté), whom he had married in 1813. It was also at this time that he began to put together a collection of pictures, medals and curiosities, which, on his death in 1859, he bequeathed to the city of Angers, which installed it in the Hotel Pincé; among these was a Paolo and Francesca by Ingres in a splendid neo-gothic frame that the Turpin himself had selected.

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