Ary Scheffer and I

“Scheffer, knowing the impossibility of getting them away unrecognised, took off his “Shako,” and waving it in the air, called out to the people- “Le Roi part, vive le Roi!”

During one of my visits to the Netherlands Institute for Art History in 2019 I read ‘Memoir of the life of Ary Scheffer’ by Harriet Grote, in the Dutch translation from 1861. In the book Scheffer tells about the role he played in important events in French history. The lively anecdotes were noted down by his enthusiastic biographer. Ary engaged himself actively as an artist,a colleague to other artists, teaching in his studio, he also gave drawing and sculpting lessons to the children of Louis Philippe, the citizen king. What adds to the complexity of his character is that he was at the same time politically active in more libertarian cycles around General de Lafayette where he must have met Mrs Grote of whom was said; “had she been a man she would have been the leader of a party”. As a well to do citizen he was also a commander in the Garde nationale, a complex responsibility and experience.

At the time the happenings were visualized through engravings much like the newsphotography of today.
I began to study those images by drawing, all the while asking myself ; ‘where is Scheffer?’ Drawing after drawing and still I could not put my finger on Scheffer until I concluded that imagination and curiosity are in themselves the theme. If he can’t be found he can be anyone of the figures engraved. I planned to make a children’s book or a graphic novel and even an illustrated French ( re-) issue because Mrs Grotes’ book has never been published in a French translation.

In the beginning of 2023 I decided to try and connect the stories of Ary Scheffers’ artistic and personal engagement in a larger and contemporary context.

And that led to the 32 painting series called ‘Turmoil’.

In October this work will be shown in connectien with the exhibition ‘Liberté! Ary Scheffer en de Franse Romantiek’ at the Dordrechts Museum.