Debras account



Impressionism, a historical reconstruction

Louis Debras



of his exhibited pictures


What pictures did Debras exhibit?
On this page you will find an account of the pictures that Louis Debras exhibited at the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874, at the Salon, it’s successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, at regional exhibitions and at an auction at an posthumous auction at Hôtel Drouot in 1899. You will also find some titles of more recent known works of which I couldn’t find a picture. See an impression of his works exhibited in 1874 and an overview of his pictures.


Exhibited works of Debras in 1874:

  • catalogue numbers 50 – 53
  • so in total Debras (Louis) exhibited 4 works ;
    • 1x a still life (no.51)
    • 1x a drawing (no.52)
    • 1x an indication of place
    • 0x an indication of time, season or weather
    • 1x a study (no.50)
    • 0x a loan
  • Moffett doesn’t give one suggestion what actual works Debras exhibited (R2,p120), nor does Berson (R90II,p7) or Adhémar (R87,p236). I couldn’t find a suggestion either.

Catalogue 1874: (R2,p120;R90I,p5;R87,p236;iR1)

1IE-1874-50, Un paysan, étude.
Eng.: a peasant; study. Compare S1859-788. According to Adhémar this is the same work (R87,p236). Berson refers to a review of de Montifaud (Adhémar overlooked this): ‘Close to him (=Degas), the misters Cals and Debras seem to be falling into illustration painting; is it because they present us with pastiches of Gustave Doré … the second one with its Etude de Paysan, of a heavy and rough paste?’ (R90I,p29;R87,p267)
I couldn’t find an option that comes close.
To compare I render a detail of a photo of a painting of Debras that formerly was in the Musée Alfred Danicourt in Péronne and destroyed in the first World War: 18xx, La Misère (detail), on an old photo, xx, MAD Péronne (destroyed WWI) (iR313); it depicts a (peasant) woman (with her children).
To compare I will also render a portrait of a farmer by Vincent van Gogh: 1885, Portrait de paysan, 39×31, MRBA Brussels (iR6; M80). It was also done in a ‘heavy and rough paste’ way.

1IE-1874-51, Une nature morte.
Eng.: a still life. I could find just one picture of a still life made by Louis Debras. This I will render as a most uncertain option: 18xx, Sbr, Still life with oranges, ?cm A2018/10/07 (iR10;iR18), which probably is a better suggestion for: SdAF-1880-1020, Salade d’oranges, 50x62cm.
Compare: S1870-744, Nature morte.

1IE-1874-52, San Juan de la Rapita (Espagne); dessin.
Eng.: Sint John de la Rapita (Spain); drawing.
In 1873 Debras showed an oil painting with the same title at the Salon, see below. According to Adhémar this deals with the same work (R87,p236). Webmuseo notes that there was a painting of Louis Debras in the Musée Alfred Danicourt in Péronne titled ‘Souvenir d’Espagne (san Juan de la Rapita)’, which was destroyed in World War I (iR313). It was bought before 1891. I assume that was the 1873 Salon painting. The title ‘souvenir’ assumes it was a landscape. Anyway I couldn’t find anything about a person called San Juan de la Rapita. There is a small town along the Mediterranean about 190km south of Barcelona, that is called San Carles De la Ràpita, nowadays short La Rapita (iR9; iR3). Along the coast is a tower called Torre de Sant Joan (iR9; see; see; see). In 2023 there was a San Juan festival in La Rapita (see). La Ràpita is a place name referring to the Arabic word for mosque or fortification located outside a village (iR5).
I assume this drawing and the Salon painting, which was probably in the Péronne museum, was made in La Rapita and probably depicted the tower of San Juan. I couldn’t find any work of Debras that comes near. To compare I render a detail of a drawing of Louis Debras I found on ebay, which depicts a landscape (in France): 1860, Sbr+Dbl, Paysage arboré (Lavarenne Péronne Nadar), fusain + gouache, 28×23, A2024 (iR253;iR42;aR8). To compare I will also render a recent photo of the tower of Saint John in La Rapita (see).

1IE-1874-53, Rembrandt dans son atelier.
Eng.: Rembrandt in his study. There are a few artists that depicted Rembrandt in his studio (iR6).
Rembrandt (1606-69): Peintre dans son atelier peignant le portrait d’un couple, ink, 18×23, Louvre (iR6;M5a). It was in the Louvre since 1878. So Debras could have made a copy or be inspired for his own painting. Note: the authorship of Rembrandt is disputed (M5a).
Rembrandt (1606-69), 1628ca, Artist in His Studio, on panel, 25×32, MFA Boston (M22). Till 1850 it was in the hands of the art-dealer Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun in Paris (iR24). So it is well possible that Debras has seen this painting. Note: the authorship of Rembrandt is disputed (iR4).
Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret (1782-1863): 1834, Rembrandt dans son atelier, 101×96, Louvre (iR6;M5). This painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1836 and later in the collection of King Louis Philippe (1773-1850) (iR3). The Louvre doesn’t indicate where it stayed after his death (M5). Was it visible for Debras to see it?
Paul-Adolphe Rajon: 1869 (or 1886), Rembrandt in His Studio (after Jean-Léon Gérôme), engraving, 24×20, RM Amsterdam (iR6;iR6;M77). Was Debras in the opportunity to see the original painting of Gérôme?
I will render the Boston painting to compare as best option and also a compilation of the other 3 art-works.
Note: WikiPedia calls it one of main works and dates it 1882 (iR4).


Louis Debras at the Salon:
Louis Debras often exhibited at the Salon and it’s successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français. My main source is the Salon database (iR1).
In 1880 Debras exhibited exempté (iR1).

S1843-315, Le sculpteur de la forêt noire (Herman Cloffer)
Additional info: “Uniquement occupé de son travail, voulant le rendre aussi beau qu’il le rêvait, il s’y confondait tout entier, il l’animait de ses désirs.” / (Magasin pittoresque, 9e année). (Eng.: Solely occupied with his work, wanting to make it as beautiful as he dreamed it would be, he merged himself entirely into it, animating it with his desires.)
The name Herman Cloffer appears in a diary called ‘an attic philosopher in Paris’ (see). Furthermore I couldn’t find any information (iR69;iR70). La forêt noire seems to be a specific form of wood sculpting (iR10). The added description assumes that Debras depicted a sculptor occupied with sculpting in wood.

S1849-492, Portrait de M. D…
Compare: S1859-790 + S1865-587 + S1879-854 + SdAF-1894-539.
Compare: 1849, SDbr, Vue de Montmartre, prise aux environs du moulin de la Galette, pastel, 29×46, Carnavalet (iR195;M8). Was this work rejected? Because it was dated, assumes it was meant to be exhibited or sold.

S1859-787, La halte
Eng.: The stopover. I assume this was a landscape painting.

S1859-790, Portrait de M. L. D...
Compare: S1849-492 + S1865-587 + S1879-854 + SdAF-1894-539.

S1859-789, Un mendiant
Eng.: A beggar. Compare: 1858, SDbl, La serenade à la guitare, 50×41, A2012/10/28 (iR17;iR2) . Note: the singer looks a bit like a beggar and the date corresponds.

S1859-788, Un paysan
Eng.: a farmer. Compare: 1IE-1874-50. According to Adhémar this is the same work (R87,p236).

S1861-813, L’introduction: enfance de Carle Van-Loo.
Carle van Loo, born as Charles Andrée van Loo (1705-65) (iR3). Compare this painting an allegory on painting where a child is  depicted painting (iR6).

S1861-814, Un berger valencien (Espagne).
Compare: Amiens-1861-?, Berger Valencien.

S1863-526, *Herrera le vieux et sa servante
Additional info: La tradition rapporte que, lorsqu’il était surchargé d’ouvrages et sans élèves pour l’aider, Herrera chargeait sa servante d’ébaucher ses tableaux. Cette femme prenait les couleurs avec de grosses brosses et les étendait sur la toile au hasard. Avant qu’elles fussent sèches Herrera continuait le travail et formait de ce cahos [sic], des paysages, des figures. / (Histoire des peintres espagnols, L. Viardot).
Eng.: Herrera the elder and his servant. Additional info: According to tradition, when Herrera was overloaded with work and had no students to help him, he would ask his servant to sketch his paintings. This woman took the colours with large brushes and spread them on the canvas at random. Before they were dry Herrera continued the work and formed landscapes and figures from this chaos / (History of Spanish painters, L. Viardot).
Francisco Herrera the elder (1576?-1656) was a Spanish artist (iR4;iR66).

S1864-514, *Maria Tintoretta.
Maybe meant is Marietta Robusti (1560?-90), the daughter of Jacobo Robusti, better known as Tintoretto. She is referred to as Tintoretta. (iR3)

S1865-586, *La confession du giaour.
Eng.: The confession of the gypsy man (?).

S1865-587, Portrait de M. L. D
Compare: S1849-492 + S1859-790 + S1879-854 + SdAF-1894-539.

S1866-509, *Un bravo.
Additional info: (Voir aux Dessins, etc). Eng.: A congratulations.
In Revue de Paris (1866, p340) this work is just mentioned (iR40). 

S1866-2165, Portrait de M. T…; dessin rehaussé de blanc
Eng.: Portrait of Mr. T…; drawing heightened with white.

S1869-645, Tête de mouton, etc. ; nature morte.
(Voir aux Dessins, etc.). Eng.: Sheep’s head, etc.; still-life. Maybe several still-life studies?

S1869-2664, Paysage; dessin
S1869-2665, Paysage; dessin
(Voir à la Peinture). Eng.: landscape, drawing. Compare: 18xx, Sbr, Chemin dans la campagne, dr + gouache, 23×29, xx (aR4)

S1870-744, Nature morte.
Eng.: still-life.

S1872-450, Episode de chasse.
Eng.: Hunting episode.

S1872-451, Portrait de Mme ***.

S1873-425, *San-Juan de la Rapita (Espagne).
The same title as 1IE-1874-52, which was a drawing. According to Adhémar this deals with the same work (R87,p236).

S1874-536, Portrait du comte de R
Eng.: Portrait of the Count of R.

S1876-2330, Une rue, à Montmartre.
The used technique is unclear; it was listed under:
Dessins, cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures, vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences (iR1). Eng.: a road in Montmartre. See also the pastel S1877-2562.

S1877-2562, Une rue, à Montmartre; pastel.
Eng.: a road in Montmartre; pastel. Compare: S1876-2330. Compare: 18xx, Rue de la Bonne, angle de la rue St Vincent (échafaudage des constructions du Sacré-Coeur), pastel, 28×23, Carnavalet Paris (iR195;M8); and: 18xx, La rue Saint Vincent à Montmartre, pastel, 28×23, Carnavalet Paris (iR195;M8).

S1877-2563, Intérieur de cour; pastel.
(Voir Peinture). Eng.: Courtyard interior; pastel.

S1878-657, Portrait de M. José L

S1878-658, Pommes et raisins.
Eng.: Apples and grapes. So this was a still-life.

S1879-854, Portrait de M. L. D
Compare: S1849-492 + S1859-790 + S1865-587 + SdAF-1894-539. 


Louis Debras at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français (=SdAF):
Louis Debras exhibited almost yearly at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français from 1880-1898.
In 1880 Debras exhibited exempté (iR1). My main source is the Salon database (iR1).

SdAF-1880-1019, Portrait de M. *** ;
Additional info: H. 0m,73.L. 0m,60. ([salle] 10.).

SdAF-1880-1020, Salade d’oranges ;
Additional info: H. 0m,50.- L. 0m,62. ([salle] 10.). Eng: Oranges salad.

SdAF-1881-622, Portrait de M. de H
Eng: portrait of mister de H.

S1881-623, Un amateur.
Eng: an amateur / enthusiast / hobbyist.

SdAF-1881-2662, Portrait de M. Armand B… ;
Additional info: Dessins, cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures, vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences. Eng: Portrait of mister Armand B.

SdAF-1882-749, Portrait de Mlle Lucy Leys.
Eng: Portrait of Miss Lucy Leys. She was the daughter of the painter Henri Leys (1815-99) (iR4;R9,p478), he also did portray here (iR10).

SdAF-1883-688, Propos galant.
Eng: The gallant proposal / Amorous intentions.
Compare: Rouen-1884-257, Propos galant.

SdAF-1883-689, Un peintre.
Eng: a painter. Maybe Mister G. Cain, whose studio Debras also exhibited, see no.2723?

SdAF-1883-2723, Intérieur de l’atelier de M. G. Cain; pastel (Appartient a M. G. Caïn)
Eng: Interior of the workshop of Mr. G. Cain. The title is mentioned in ‘Le Progrès du Nord’ (1883/05/05) (iR40). Mutualart indicates that G. Caïn was a 19th centure artist and renders a sculpture of a dog (iR11). Etsy renders an interior of G. Cain (iR387). For the rest he seems quit forgotten.

SdAF-1884-680, Joueurs d’échecs; Appartient à M. Seys
Eng: Chess players.

SdAF-1884-2691, Quatre études; paysages ;
Additional info: Dessins, cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures, vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences. Eng: 4 studies; landscapes. Note: it probably were drawings, watercolours and/or pastels.
To compare I render: 18xx, Ciel d’orage (stormy sky), pastel, 23×31, A2014 (aR3;iR2;iR1).

SdAF-1884-2692, Granville.
Granville lies at the Normandy coast.

SdAF-1885-712, L’Apostille.
Note: his name is wrongly written as Debas (iR1). Eng.: the petition / the note.
La Revue Normand (1885/05/01) mentions this work and adds ‘black and red’, which makes me assume it was a figure painting (iR40,bpt6k993628d). La Marseillaise (1885/05/02) just mentions the catalogue number and the title (iR40), so does the Courrier de l’Art (iR40). Le Mot d’ordre (1885/05/01) makes clear this work was hung in ‘Salle 10’ (iR437).

SdAF-1885- 2694, *Les chaumières, à Cernay (Oise) ;
Additional info: L’oeuvre est mentionnée, à tort, sous le n° 2594, p. 238 du livret. Eng: Thatched cottages, in Cernay (Oise).

SdAF-1885- 2695, *Cascades à Cernay, (Oise) ;
Additional info: L’oeuvre est mentionnée, à tort, sous le n° 2595, p. 238 du livret. Eng: waterfalls at Cernay (Oise).

SdAF-1886-683, Un jour d’étude au Louvre.
Note: his last name is wrongly written as Debbas (iR1).
In La Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1886/06/30) his name is mentioned among others (iR40,bpt6k203122z). L’Évenement makes clear he exhibited this work in ‘Salle 15’ (iR40).
Compare: Le Havre-1887-170, Un jour d’étude au Louvre and HD1899/06/02-6, Un jour d’étude au Louvre.
Maybe Debras depicted artists copying in the Louvre (iR10).

SdAF-1887-681, Une délégation

SdAF-1887-2778, *Près de Boulogne (Pas-de-Calais)
Section du catalogue: Dessins, cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures, vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences. See link for the location of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

SdAF-1887-2779, *Un potager
Section du catalogue: Dessins, cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures, vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences
Eng.: A vegetable (kitchen) garden.

SdAF-1888-737, Francesco Zurbaran
Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) was a Spanish painter (iR3).
Probably: 1888, Sbl, Francesco Zurbaran, 274×203, MBA Orléans (iR10;iR308)

SdAF-1888-2881, Croquis, études; fusains
SdAF-1888-2882, Croquis, études; fusains
In L’entre-acte (1888/05/31) there was a short referrence to his charcoal studies (iR40,bpt6k6795438r), and also in Vert-Vert (1888/05/31) (iR437). They are just mentioned in L’Estafette (1888/06/10) (iR437).

SdAF-1889-742, Richelieu étudiant les plans d’attaque destinés au siège de la Rochelle
Eng.: Richelieu studying the plans of attack for the siege of La Rochelle. This seems to be a history painting. Now: 18xx, Richelieu étudiant les plans d’attaque destinés au siège de la Rochelle, 134×160, A1996/03/14 (iR155;iR15;iR13;iR1).
Armand Jean du Plessis (1585-1642), 1st Duke of Richelieu, best known as Cardinal Richelieu, was a French statesman and prelate of the Catholic Church. He became known as l’Éminence rouge, or “the Red Eminence”. (iR3)

SdAF-1889-3061, Paysages; pastels
Note: more than one landscapes in pastel. To compare I render: 18xx, Sbl, Countryside landscape, pastel, 30×45, A2017/11/25 (iR17).

SdAF-1890-693, *Une redevance au vieux temps
Eng.:An old-fashioned royalty

SdAF-1890-694, *Etude
Eng.: Study.

SdAF-1890-2747, *Blanc et noir; étude
Section du catalogue: Dessins cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures, vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences

SdAF-1890-2748, *La route de Moulon (Seine-et-Oise); pastel
I can’t discern where this location is. To compare I render: 18xx, Petit paysage avec un chemin (small landscape with a path), pastel, 10×15, Collection Frank Meissner Germany (aR7).

SdAF-1891-451, Un membre du Conseil des Dix; étude
Eng.: A member of the Council of Ten; study. Maybe a history painting.
Info: From 1310 until the fall of the republic in 1797, the Council of Ten was one of the main organs of the government of the Republic of Venice, an executive and judicial committee whose role was to ensure the security of the state. (iR4)
To compare I render: 1891, The Elder, 138×112, A1986/05/21 (iR13). Note: the date and the theme show some resemblance.

SdAF-1892-499, Chasse réservée
Eng.: Restricted hunting / Reserved hunt.

SdAF-1893-509, Un jury d’examen chez les chartreux
Eng.: A board of examiners at the Carthusian monastery,

SdAF-1893-510, Un trappiste
Eng.: A Trappist monk.
In Le Monde (1894/06/06) Henri Dac only mentioned the title (iR40).

SdAF-1894-538, Méditation
In Le Monde (1894/06/06) Henri Dac reviewed ‘M. Debras send in a beautiful head of a thoughtful old man’ (iR40), maybe referring to this work.

SdAF-1894-539, Portrait de M. L. D…
Compare: S1849-492 + S1859-790 + S1865-587 + S1879-539.
The ‘Ancienne Gazette des etrangers (1894/05/10) remarked of portraits more or less lively (iR40), as is done in Le Petit Moniteur Universelle (1894/05/09) by Hippolyte Lemaire (iR437).

SdAF-1894-2091, Intérieur de cour; pastel

SdAF-1895-534, Dernier sommeil
Eng.: Last sleep

SdAF-1896-?, Partie de pêche; Exercice musical.
Le Gaulois of 1896/04/27 sommed up some submissions to the Salon including this work of Debras (iR40,bpt6k529481b). But it is not in the Salon database (iR1).

SdAF-1898-2349, *Bords de rivière; pastel
Eng.: banks of a river.

SdAF-1898-2350, *Un coin de basse-cour; pastel
Eng.: A corner of the farmyard


Louis Debras at regional exhibitions:

1861, Amiens:
Amiens-1861-?, Berger Valencien.
Amiens-1861-?, Un tête d’étude.
In ‘Les Beaux-Arts; Revue Nouvelle’ Cte de Betz (1861/08), referring to the Exposition of the ‘Société des amis des Arts’ in Amiens, mentions Louis Debras (page 148/9) ‘M. Debras in his Berger Valencien and even more in his beautiful portrait of a man with hands, which he modestly calls: Un tête d’étude, showed that he was successfully continuing the excellent traditions of his master, if he were not called to higher distinctions.’ (iR40,bpt6k5406230n). Compare: S1861-814, Un berger valencien (Espagne).

1884, Rouen:
Rouen-1884-257, Propos galant.
According to an article in ‘Journal des Artistes’ (1884/10/10) Louis Debras had exhibited this work at the Exposition des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, where after it was acquired by the ‘Société des Amis des arts’ (iR40,bpt6k45769123). Compare: SdAF-1883-688, Propos galant.

1887, Le Havre:
Le Havre-1887-170, Un jour d’étude au Louvre.
‘Journal des Artistes’ (1887/09/11) remarks the cheerfullness of the subject and describes ‘The head of the priest sitting on a sopha is remarkably rendered.’ (iR40,bpt6k45770626).
Compare: SdAF-1886-683, Un jour d’étude au Louvre + HD1899/06/02-6, Un jour d’étude au Louvre.


Louis Debras, posthumous sale:
1899/06/02+03: posthumous sale at Hôtel Drouot (iR40,bpt6k1270139s). Apart from the 29 titles paintings, there also were auctioned: ‘Framed pastels, quantities of pastels, charcoals, watercolours, studies on canvas and panels, drawings, old and modern engravings, coloured lithographs, etc.’

HD1899/06/02-1, Chasse réservée.
HD1899/06/02-2, Réunion de moines dans l’atelier de l’artiste.
HD1899/06/02-3, Plaisirs de l’Été (pêcheurs à la ligne)
HD1899/06/02-4, Grandeur et humilité.
HD1899/06/02-5, Paysage.
HD1899/06/02-6, Un jour d’étude au Louvre.
HD1899/06/02-7, Paysage soleil couchant.
HD1899/06/02-8, Tableau de fruits.
HD1899/06/02-9, Jeune fille à l’agneau.
HD1899/06/02-10, Moine en prière.
HD1899/06/02-11, Dernier sommeil.
HD1899/06/02-12, Membre du Conseil des Dix.
HD1899/06/02-13, Mousquetaire.
HD1899/06/02-14, Fruits.
HD1899/06/02-15, Montée difficile.
HD1899/06/02-16, Cardinal lisant.
HD1899/06/02-17, Cour d’amour d’après Rubens.
See the original of Rubens made around 1633 (iR3).
HD1899/06/02-18, Personnage Louis XV.
HD1899/06/02-19, Portrait de peintre, signé Fragonard jeune, 1833.
HD1899/06/02-20, Sujet religieux (allégorie d’après Le Poussin)
HD1899/06/02-21, Fusain (2 portraits dans le même cadre).
HD1899/06/02-22, Pastel (5 paysages dans le même cadre).
HD1899/06/02-23, Bords de la mer.
HD1899/06/02-24, Femme assise dans un parc.
HD1899/06/02-25, Tableau ancien, sujet religieux.
HD1899/06/02-26, Portrait d’homme à collerette.
HD1899/06/02-27, Tableau ancien (descente de croix)
HD1899/06/02-28, Confession de Giaour.
HD1899/06/02-29, Paysage (matin, bords de rivière).


Louis Debras at auctions:
At the posthumous auction at Hôtel Drouot of Léopold Levert there were 3 copies made by Debras, including 1 after a painting of Delacroix.

HD1883/02/26-124, Le Bœuf, (d’après Rembrandt; now in Musée du Louvre)
See original of Rembrandt made in 1655 (M5).

HD1883/02/26-125, Hamlet (after E. Delacroix)
See the original painting of Eugène Delacroix (iR3).

HD1883/02/26-126, unknown (D’après Craesbeke)


Louis Debras titles without images (at recent auctions):

18xx, Sbr, Paysage au chemin, aquarelle, 17×24, A2010/10/01 (iR17)

18xx, L’Atelier (the studio), 38×25, A1993/12/08 (iR13)

1850, Jésus devant les docteurs (Copie d’après Véronèse, exécutée à Madrid). Commissioned and bought by the State, since 1852 at the depot of Mairie de Pélussin (aR13). See the original of Paul Véronèse (1528-88) (iR4).

1854, Portrait of a lady, 210×111, A1892/01/19 (iR13)



Recommanded citation: “Impressionism: Louis Debras, account of his exhibited works. Last modified 2024/05/17.