1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flandrin, Jean Hippolyte
FLANDRIN, JEAN HIPPOLYTE (1809–1864), French painter, was born at Lyons in 1809. His father, though brought up to business, had great fondness for art, and sought himself to follow an artist’s career. Lack of early training, however, disabled him for success, and he was obliged to take up the precarious occupation of a miniature painter. Hippolyte was the second of three sons, all painters, and two of them eminent, the third son Paul (b. 1811) ranking as one of the leaders of the modern landscape school of France. Auguste (1804–1842), the eldest, passed the greater part of his life as professor at Lyons, where he died. After studying for some time at Lyons, Hippolyte and Paul, who had long determined on the step and economized for it, set out to walk to Paris in 1829, to place themselves under the tuition of Hersent. They chose finally to enter the atelier of Ingres, who became not only their instructor but their friend for life. At first considerably hampered by poverty, Hippolyte’s difficulties were for ever removed by his taking, in 1832, the Grand Prix de Rome, awarded for his picture of the “Recognition of Theseus by his Father.” This allowed him to study five years at Rome, whence he sent home several pictures which considerably raised his fame. “St Clair healing the Blind” was done for the cathedral of Nantes, and years after, at the exhibition of 1855, brought him a medal of the first class. “Jesus and the Little Children” was given by the government to the town of Lisieux. “Dante and Virgil visiting the Envious Men struck with Blindness,” and “Euripides writing his Tragedies,” belong to the museum at Lyons. Returning to Paris through Lyons in 1838 he soon received a commission to ornament the chapel of St John in the church of St Séverin at Paris, and reputation increased and employment continued abundant for the rest of his life. Besides the pictures mentioned above, and others of a similar kind, he painted a great number of portraits. The works, however, upon which his fame most surely rests are his monumental decorative paintings. Of these the principal are those executed in the following churches:—in the sanctuary of St Germain des Prés at Paris (1842–1844), in the choir of the same church (1846–1848), in the church of St Paul at Nismes (1848–1849), of St Vincent de Paul at Paris (1850–1854), in the church of Ainay at Lyons (1855), in the nave of St Germain des Prés (1855–1861). In 1856 Hippolyte Flandrin was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. In 1863 his failing health, rendered worse by incessant toil and exposure to the damp and draughts of churches, induced him again to visit Italy. He died of smallpox at Rome on the 21st of March 1864. As might naturally be expected in one who looked upon painting as but the vehicle for the expression of spiritual sentiment, he had perhaps too little pride in the technical qualities of his art. There is shown in his works much of that austerity and coldness, expressed in form and colour, which springs from a faith which feels itself in opposition to the tendencies of surrounding life. He has been compared to Fra Angelico; but the faces of his long processions of saints and martyrs seem to express rather the austerity of souls convicted of sin than the joy and purity of never-corrupted life which shines from the work of the early master.
See Delaborde, Lettres et pensées de H. Flandrin (Paris, 1865); Beulé, Notice historique sur H. F. (1869).