Constant Troyon Biography
Troyon was born August 28, 1810
died February 21, 1865
Troyon was a French painter, born on Sévres, near Paris, where his father was connected with the famous manufactory of china.
Constant Troyon was an animal painter of the first rank, and was closely associated with the artists who painted around Barbizon. The technical qualities of his methods of painting are most masterly; his drawing is excellent, and his composition always interesting. It was only comparatively late in life that Troyon found his métier, but when he realized his power of painting animals be produced a fairly large number of good paintings in a few years. Troyon entered the ateliers very young as a decorator, and until he was twenty he labored assiduously at the minute details of porcelain ornamentation; and this kind of work Constant Troyon mastered so thoroughly that it was many years before he overcame its limitations. By the time Troyon reached twenty-one be was travelling the country as an artist, and painting landscapes so long as his finances lasted. Then when pressed for money Troyon made friends with the first china manufacturer he met and worked steadily at his old business of decorator until he had accumulated enough funds to permit him to start again on his wanderings.
Troyon was a favorite with Roqueplan, an artist of distinction eight years his senior, and he became one of his pupils after receiving certain tuition from a painter, now quite unknown, named Riocreux. Roqueplan introduced Troyon to Rousseau, Jules Dupré, and the other Barbizon painters, and in his paintings between 1840 and 1847 he seemed to endeavour to follow in their footsteps. But as a landscapist Troyon would never have been recognized as a thorough master, although his paintings of the period are marked with much sincerity and met with a certain success. It may be pointed out, however, that in one or two pure landscape paintings of the end of his life Troyon achieved qualities of the highest artistic kind; but this was after lengthy experience as a cattle painter, by which his talents had become thoroughly developed.
In 1846 Constant Troyon went to the Netherlands, and at the Hague saw Paul Potter’s famous "Young Bull". From the studies he made of this painting , of Cuyp’s sunny landscapes, and Rembrandt’s noble masterpieces Troyon soon evolved a new method of painting, and it is only in paintings produced after this time that Troyon’s true individuality is revealed. When Troyon became conscious of his power as an animal painter he developed with rapidity and success, until his oil paintings became recognized as masterpieces in Britain and America, as well as in all countries of the Continent.
Success, however, came too late, for Troyon never quite believed in it himself, and even when he could command the market of several countries he still grumbled loudly at the way the world treated him. Yet Constant Troyon was decorated with the Legion of Honour, and five times received medals at the Paris Salon, while Napoleon III was one of his patrons; and it is certain Troyon was at least as financially successful as his Barbizon colleagues.
Troyon died, unmarried, at Paris on the 21st of February 1865, after a term of clouded intellect. All his famous paintings are of date between 1850 and 1864, his earlier paintings being of comparatively little value. His mother, who survived him, instituted the Troyon prize for animal paintings at the École des Beaux Arts. Troyon paintings are fairly well known to the public through a number of large engravings from his paintings. In the Wallace Gallery in London are "Watering Cattle" and "Cattle in Stormy Weather"; in the Glasgow Corporation Gallery is a "Landscape with Cattle"; the Louvre contains his famous "Oxen at Work" and "Returning to the Farm"; while the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other galleries in America contain fine examples of Constant Troyon paintings. His "Valle de la Toucque, Normandy", is one of his greatest paintings; and at Christies sale-room in 1902 the single figure of a cow in a landscape of but moderate quality fetched £7350. Emile van Marcke (1827-1891) was his best-known pupil.
Constant Troyon died in 1865 and was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.