Theodule Ribot - Encyclopedia

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THEODULE RIBOT (1823-1891), French painter, was born at Breteuil, in Eure, in 1823, and died at Bois Colombes, near Paris, in September 1891. A pupil nominally of Glaize, but more really of Ribera, of the great Flemings and of Chardin, Theodule Ribot had yet conspicuously his own noble and personal vision,, his own intensity of feeling and rich sobriety of performance. Beginning to work seriously at art when he was no longer extremely young, and dying before he was extremely old, Ribot crowded into some thirty or thirty-five years of active practice very varied achievements; and he worked in at least three mediums, oil paint, pencil or crayon draughtsmanship and the needle of the etcher. His drawings were sometimes "complete in themselves," and sometimes fragmentary but powerful preparations for painted canvases. The etchings, of which there are only about a couple of dozen, are of the middle period of his practice; they show a diversity of method as well as of theme; the work in the well-nigh Velazquez-like "Priere" - a group of girl children - contrasting strongly with that process almost of outline alone, which he employed in the brilliant little group of prints which record his vision of the character and humours of cooks and kitchenboys. In etching, the method varied with the theme - not with the period. It is quite otherwise with the paintings. Here the earlier work, irrespective of its subject, is the drier and the more austere; the later work, irrespective bf its subject, the freer and broader. But even in that which is quite early there is a curious and impressive intensity of conception and presentation. His visions of elderly women and young girls remain upon the memory. His women, wrinkled and worn, have had the experience of a hard and grinding world; his children, his young girls, are the quintessence of innocence and happy hopefulness, and life is a jest to his boys. His religious pieces, in which Ribera affected him, have conviction and force. Into portraits and into character studies, but more especially into genre subjects, Ribot was apt to introduce Still-life, and to make much of it. Herein, as in his sense of homeliness, he resembled Chardin. But again, Chardin-like, he painted Still-life for its own sake, by itself, and always with an extraordinary sense of the solidity and form, the texture and the hue, and, it must be added also, the very charm of matter. (F. WE.)

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