Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Antoine-Dominique Magaud

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 9
Antoine-Dominique Magaud

by Gaston Sortais


French painter, b. at Marseilles 1817; d. there, 1899. He studied in Paris under Léon Cogniet. The most important of his works are at Marseilles, where he presided over the Ecole des Beaux Arts so successfully that he was entitled to be called its second founder. Magaud's talent was universal; his portraits, and especially that of himself, are remarkable; then he took up landscape painting, and has left us among others" A view taken from St. Martha's near Marseilles; his genre paintings include a famous "Bashi-Bazouk calling up Spirits". But it is principally in his decorative compositions that his real greatness is shown. In Marseilles he decorated the Café de France, the Chamber of Commerce, the Library, the Grand-Hotel, the Prefecture. His masterpiece in work of this kind is the historical gallery of the Marseilles Religious Association. This gallery comprises fifteen canvases, four metres by two, and a ceiling nine metres. The subject to be treated was a pictorial glorification of the benefits of Christian civilization. The main theme is set forth on the ceiling in a vast symbolical composition representing religion as the inspiration of Learning, Science and Art. On the side walls of the gallery the following subjects appear: Philosophy, personified by St. Justin endeavouring to prove to the Jew, Tryphon, the superiority of Christianity; Theology is represented by St. Thomas Aquinas on a visit to St. Bonaventure, Languages and Literature by Palatine School of Charlemane and Alcuin; Justice by St. Louis seated under the oak of of Vincennes; Eloquence by St. Bernard preaching the Second Crusade at Vézelay; Poetry by Dante in rapt contemplation of the heavens. Then comes Christopher Columbus landing at San Salvador and thanking God for having given him the grace "of carrying His name and His holy religion beyond the confines of the known stars"; next, Michelangelo, submitting plans for St. Peter's Basilica to Pope Paul III; Palestrina on his knees before Pius IV, pleading tie cause of sacred music; Father Cataldino evangelizing the Indians during the conquest of Paraguay; Conde thanking God for the victory of Rocroi; Mgr de Belzunce ministering to the plague-stricken; Volta in his laboratory at Como among his alembics and his retorts giving thanks to the God of Science, finally Bossuet teaching history to the Dauphin.

This ensemble of paintings is assuredly one of the most beautiful works of Christian Art during the nineteenth century. Without going to Marseilles we can form some idea of it by turning over the leaves of the album in which Sirouy has skillfully reproduced the various subjects of this vast epopee. Magaud has shown in many other less important paintings, that he could treat artistic subjects with the mind of an enlightened Christian. For instance, "The Probatica Pool"; "The Slaughter of the Innocents"; "The Christians in the prisons, aided by their brethren"; "The Holy Family" in St. Lazarus's Church, Marrseilles, eight decorative compositions for the chapel of the "Carmelins" founded in 1621 by the officers of the Confraternity of the Scapular; "Jeremias reproaching the Jews with their ill-deeds".

SERVIAN, Magaud, l'artiste, le chef d' ecole, l'homme, 36 etchings apart from the text (Paris, 1908): SIROUY, Album de la Galerie historique du Cercle religieuz de Marseille (Paris, s.d.).

GASTON SORTAIS