1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Scheffer, Ary

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SCHEFFER, ARY (1795-1858), French painter of Dutch extraction, was born at Dort on the 10th of February 1795. After the early death of his father, a poor painter, Ary was taken to Paris and placed in the studio of Guérin by his mother, a woman of great energy and character. The moment at which Scheffer left Guérin coincided with the commencement of the Romantic movement. He had little sympathy with the directions given to it by either of its most conspicuous representatives, Sigalon, Delacroix or Géricault, and made various tentative efforts — “Gaston de Foix” (1824), “Suliot Women” (1827) — before he found his own path. Immediately after the exhibition of the last-named work he turned to Byron and Goethe, selecting from Faust a long series of subjects which had an extraordinary vogue. Of these, we may mention “Margaret at her Wheel”; “Faust Doubting”; “Margaret at the Sabbat”; “Margaret Leaving Church”; the “Garden Walk”; and lastly, perhaps the most popular of all, “Margaret at the Well.” The two “Mignons” appeared in 1836; and “Francesca da Rimini,” which is on the whole Scheffer's best work, belongs to the same period. He now turned to religious subjects: “Christus Consolator” (1836) was followed by “Christus Remunerator,” “The Shepherds Led by the Star” (1837), “The Magi Laying Down their Crowns,” “Christ in the Garden of Olives,” “Christ bearing his Cross,” “Christ Interred” (1845), “St Augustine and Monica” (1846), after which he ceased to exhibit, but, shut up in his studio, continued to produce much which was first seen by the outer world after his death, which took place at Argenteuil on the 15th of June 1858. At the posthumous exhibition of his works there figured the “Sorrows of the Earth,” and the “Angel Announcing the Resurrection,” which he had left unfinished. Amongst his numerous portraits those of La Fayette, Béranger, Lamartine and Marie Amélie were the most noteworthy. His reputation, much shaken by this posthumous exhibition, was further undermined by the sale of the Paturle Gallery, which contained many of his most celebrated achievements; the charm and facility of their composition could not save them from the condemnation provoked by their poor and earthy colour and vapid sentiment. Scheffer, who married the widow of General Baudrand, was only made commander of the Legion of Honour in 1848 — that is, after he had wholly withdrawn from the Salon. His brother Henri, born at the Hague on the 27th of September 1798, was also a fertile painter.

See Vitet's notice (1861) prefixed to Bingham's publication of works of A. Scheffer; Etex, Ary Scheffer; Mrs Grote, Life of A. Scheffer (1860).