CHARLES EDME SAINT-MARCEL (Paris 1819 - 1890 Fontainebleau)

Lion Eating

Black chalk heightened with white on light brown wove paper
8 ¼ × 16 7/8 inches (21 × 43 cm) Signed lower right
c. 1860

Saint-Marcel studied with the history painter Charles de Steuben (Bauerbach, Germany 1788-1856 Paris), and later with Théodore Caruelle d’Aligny (Saint-Aubin-des-Chaumes 1798-1871 Lyon) in Marlotte, near the forest of Fontainebleau. There he painted outdoors (en plein-air) alongside members of the Barbizon School, such as Camille Corot (Paris 1796-1875 Paris) and Théodore Rousseau (Paris 1812-1867 Barbizon).

St. Marcel studied figure drawing with Léon Cogniet (Paris 1794-1880 Paris), in whose studio he probably met Eugène Delacroix (Saint-Maurice 1798-1863 Paris), with whom he worked on several large decorative mural projects in the 1840s. St. Marcel debuted at the official Salon beginning in 1848 and exhibited at the Salon des refuses in 1863. Saint-Marcel had an affinity for wild animals, perhaps an interest he acquired from accompanying Eugène Delacroix on his visits to the Jardins de Plantes to sketch the lions and tigers.

St. Marcel moved to Fontainebleau in 1850, where he lived for the remainder of his life. His drawings are in the collections of the Musée du Louvre; the musée Delacroix, Paris; the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne; and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pointoise. He is also represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago.

This drawing of a lion devouring an unidentifiable prey is reminiscent of a pen and ink study of a lioness devouring an animal that is in the musée Delacroix (fig. 1). In our drawing the animal is silhouetted on his left with cross-hatched lines, in the foreground by shading with the soft black chalk, and along its back by a double outline which is emphasized by the natural color of the buff-colored paper. Located in the center of the sheet, the lion’s physiognomy has been keenly observed and delineated. The resulting composition is powerful, and the subject dominates our attention.

Fig. 1 – Charles Edme Saint-Marcel, Lion, pen and ink, musée Delacroix, Paris.

Fig. 1 – Charles Edme Saint-Marcel, Lion, pen and ink, musée Delacroix, Paris.