Molins, Auguste de



Impressionism: partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition

Auguste de Molins


A Swiss depicting hunting scenes, Indonesia and more


Was Auguste de Molins an Impressionist?
There is not much known about the Swiss painter Auguste de Molins, who is born in 1821 and sometimes called Molin. The most known fact is that he joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 with 4 paintings. The year before he had been rejected at the Salon and exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. In 1850 he had made his debut at the Salon and after that exhibited another 4 times on an irregular base. From 1858 – 61 he travelled in Indonesia (and other countries) and made a journal together with several drawings (see aR8). He also made several paintings of his travels and exhibited 4 of them at the Salon of 1863 and 1864. Around 1880 he would return to Lausanne and start teaching drawing and painting. There he would die in 1890.
Horse racing and hunting and pictures from Indonesia form far out the largest portion of De Molins his work. He did not paint clearly in an impressionist painting style, which lies closer to the Realists. Although he was co-founder of the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc and joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition and he owned some paintings of Renoir and possible had connections with Pissarro, he didn’t seem very close to the impressionist circles. So he did not really belong to the impressionist art-movement.


Auguste de Molins / Molin and the Salon and other exhibitions:
Auguste de Molin made his debut with 4 works at the Salon of 1850; this was the only time that his name was written without an ‘s’. Later on he exhibited at the Salon of 1853, 1863, 1864 and 1872. After being rejected for the Salon in 1873, he exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. (iR1) Maybe this motivated him to join the next year the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition.
Auguste de Molins sometimes exhibited at regional exhibitions, namely in Toulouse in 1877 (iR1).
See link for his pictures. See link for an account.


Auguste de Molins only joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition De Molins (Auguste) showed 4 works, 3 of them being hunting scenes (catalogue numbers 92-94bis) (R2,p121). Émile Cardon (1874/04/29) judged that, among others, de Molins was more suitable to be exhibited at the Salon, than with this new school (R87,p242;R88;iR4). His works were not mentioned in reviews (R90II,p9). See link for his pictures. See link for an account.


Auguste de Molins as an artist:
Auguste de Molins mostly depicted hunting scenes, horseback riders, animals, landscapes and views of the Île-de-France (R9;iR69;iR4;R3;iR24;aR1;aR6). He was a pupil of Victor J. Chavet in Geneva (R3;iR69;R9;R87;R88;iR4;aR7) and of Alexandre Calame and Charles Humbert (aR1;aR6;iR79). In 1871 + 72 he exhibited with Durand-Ruel in London (R88;iR4). 1874/12/10 he was present at the liquidation meeting of the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc (R1,p336). He owned ‘La Grisette’ of Renoir and bought 2 more works of Renoir at the Hôtel Drouot auction 1875/03/24 under the name ‘M. de Molins’: ‘Grand vent paysage’ and ‘Femme en promenade’ (=portrait de Mme Henriot) (R87;R88;iR4;R9;R3;R31,p20+no.25;R30,no77+135?); note: of the loans Renoir exhibited at the ‘impressionist’ expositions there were no works of Auguste de Molins (R2); the meaning of ‘La Grisette’ is vague, maybe it means a gypsy or girl sewing. Auguste de Molins also had contacts with Pissarro (R31,p27).
Auguste de Molins painted more in the style of the Barbizon painters, than in an impressionist style (R9;iR4;aR1). He painted more in a realist or romantique style (iR79). Citing Bénézit (R76) Labrousse first writes that Auguste de Molins painted distant from the impressionist style, but later on he writes that De Molins rendered the skies in a style that is linked to the Impressionists (aR7). Around 1880 he will teach drawing and painting in Lausanne (iR79;R9;R3;R88;iR4;aR1). Several paintings of Auguste de Molins can be found in Musée de Neuchâtel (R9;R88;iR4;M89); I suppose Le Musée d’Art et d’Histoire.
Looking at his pictures mostly De Molins used quite bright colours, though never slightly unnatural. Sometimes the colours are quite greyish and he used a lot of browns. His drawing is quite precise, sometimes his brushstroke is more loose, but never juxtaposed. Many works seem to render a spontaneous, every day live scene, rendering high society people (especially in his many horse hunting scenes). In his Indonesian drawings he renders also poor people. Striking in those drawings is the rendering of light. In 8 of his 11 submissions to the Salon, De Molins rendered an indication of place. Of the 17 works that are known that he exhibited, only 2 give an indication of weather or season. Which indicates more a realist, than an impressionist style. Although De Molins sometimes has some impressionist tendencies, he mostly painted in a more realistic style.  See also the account.


Auguste de Molins, short biography:

  • 1821/05/06: Auguste de Molins was born in Lausanne, Switserland (aR6;iR79;iR1)
    Most sources indicate he was born in  1821 (R9;iR69;R2,p507;R3;R31,p20;R87;iR4;aR1). ULAN indicates he was born in 1810 (iR60). Ruedin, Geneanet and Bénézit render his name without an ‘s’ as Molin (aR6;iR79;iR69); the RKD renders other ways of writing his name: A. de Molint + A. de Moline (iR24).
  • Auguste was one of 7 children (iR79)
    His father was a banker who also worked in Paris (aR6;iR79)
    1851: His father died (iR79)
    1868: Auguste de Molins married with Eliza Bell (aR6;iR79)
    1871: His mother died (iR79)
  • He was well travelled (in France, Alger and Indonesia) and published a book about his visit to Indonesia (aR1;aR6;iR79); he travelled in Indonesia from April 1858 until Marz 1861 (aR7); the book he published was: «Voyage à Java. 1858-1861. Texte et dessins inédits. Rédigé et mis en ordre par M. F. Coppée » , Le Tour du monde, X, 1864 (2), pp. 231-288 (aR7); maybe called ‘La tour du monde and written in 1864 (aR7); compare the two works he exhibited at the Salon of 1863 (iR1).
  • While exhibiting he often rendered a correspondence address with the following persons: M. Deforge (Salon 1853), M. Richard (Salon 1863); M. Martin (Salon (des Refusés) 1872 + 73); M. Marchand (1st ‘impressionist’ exposition of 1874) (iR1;R2,p121)
  • 1850: his address was: 6, Rue Neuve-Breda (iR1; location unknown)
  • 1853: his address was: Rue de la Luzerne, Nîmes (Gard) (which lies deep in the south of France, close to the Mediterenean; iR1)
  • 1864: his address was: rue Lechapelais, 8 (Batignolles) (iR1)
  • 1874: Auguste de Molins lived at 17, route de Calvaire, à St-Cloud (just west of Paris; R2,p121).
  • 1875/03/24: Auguste de Molins still lived in Saint-Cloud (R31,p20).
  • 1877: Auguste de Molins joined the Exposition des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse; his address was Rue Saint-Georges, Paris (iR1)
  • 1890/06/28: Auguste de Molins died in Lausanne (iR79;aR6)
    Most sources indicate he died  in 1890 (R9;iR69;R2,p507;R3;R31,p20;iR4;aR1), in Lausanne (iR4). ULAN indicates he died in 1886 (iR60).


Most books and websites about Impressionism do not or hardly mention Auguste de Molins (R4;R5;R6;R8;R16;R17;R19;R22;R39;R86;R89;R94;R95;R102;R166;R181). In books I could find no picture at all. There is no English Wikipedia page on Auguste de Molins (iR3). Other internet databases also leave him out (iR19;iR23;iR26). My main sources are Rewald (1973=R1), Moffett (1986=R2), Walther (2013=R3,p681), Schurr & Cabanne (2008=R9,p534), Braun / Dony (1976=R30), Raeburn (1985=R31), Dayez (1974=R87,p242), Monneret (1978-81=R88I,p538), the Salon database (iR1), French Wikipedia (iR4), RKD (iR24) and Bénézit (iR69). For other general references (=R) see. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
Further reading:
Bénézit (1999=R76), Witt Library (1978=R78),

Additional references:

  1. vanished French Impressionists, 8 (article on = iR35)
  2. Daguerre (auction of a work by Auguste de Molins)
  3. (auction of a work by Auguste de Molins; Note: the birthyear is (wrongly) rendered as 1827)
  4. (overview auctions of works of Auguste de Molins = iR13)
  5. (Swiss gallery showing a work form Auguste de Molins; note the years of birth and death are wrong)
  6. Ruedin, Pascal, 1998  (a short online biography of Auguste de Molin (without an ‘s’) as part of a larger family history: Le château de la famille Mercier-de Molin à Sierre)
  7. Labrousse Pierre. Auguste de Molins. Un artiste à Java dans Le Tour du monde (1864). In: Archipel, volume 78, 2009, pp. 135-151 (article)
  8. Molins, Auguste de: Voyage à Java. 1858-1861. Texte et dessins inédits. Rédigé et mis en ordre par M. F. Coppée » , Le Tour du monde, X, 1864 (2), pp. 231-288
  9.  (2 paintings of Auguste de Molins)
  10.”auguste_de_molins” (overview of hits on “Auguste de Molins”; =iR40)



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