Théophile Thoré-Bürger

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Théophile Thoré-Bürger photographed by Nadar (c. 1865)

Étienne-Joseph-Théophile Thoré (better known as Théophile Thoré-Bürger) (23 June 1807 – 30 April 1869) was a French journalist and art critic. He is best known today for his rediscovery of the work of painter Johannes Vermeer.

Biography[edit]

Thoré-Bürger was born in La Flèche, Sarthe. His career as art critic started in the 1830s, but he was also active as a political journalist. In March 1848 he founded La Vraie République, a newspaper that was soon banned by Louis-Eugène Cavaignac. A year later, in March 1849, he founded another newspaper, Le Journal de la vraie République; that too was soon banned. Thoré-Bürger went into exile to Brussels. He continued publishing articles, now under the pseudonym William Bürger. He only returned to France after the amnesty of 1859. He died in Paris ten years later.

Today, Thoré-Bürger is best known for rediscovering the work of Johannes Vermeer and several other prominent Dutch artists, such as Frans Hals (he was the first to describe the portrait of Malle Babbe), Carel Fabritius, and others. Thoré-Bürger's interest in Vermeer began in 1842 when he saw the View of Delft in the Mauritshuis of The Hague. Vermeer's name was wholly unknown at the time; Thoré-Bürger was so impressed with the View of Delft that he spent the years before his exile searching for other works by the painter. He would eventually publish descriptions and a catalogue of Vermeer's work, although many of the paintings he attributed to the master were later proven to have been executed by others.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Dictionnaire de phrénologie et de physiognomonie, à l'usage des artistes, des gens du monde, des instituteurs, des pères de famille, des jurés, etc., 1836 Available online
  • La Vérité sur le parti démocratique, 1840 Available online
  • Catalogue de dessins des grands maîtres, provenant du cabinet de M. Villenave, 1842
  • Le Salon de 1844, précédé d'une lettre à Théodore Rousseau, 1844
  • Dessins de maîtres, Collection de feu M. Delbecq, de Gand, 1845 Available online
  • Catalogue des estampes anciennes formant la collection de feu M. Delbecq, de Gand, 1845 Available online
  • La Recherche de la liberté, 1845
  • Le Salon de 1845, précédé d'une lettre à Béranger, 1845
  • Le Salon de 1846, précédé d'une Lettre à George Sand, 1846 Available online
  • Le Salon de 1847, précédé d'une Lettre à Firmin Barrion, 1847 Available online
  • Mémoires de Caussidière, ex-préfet de police et représentant du peuple, with Marc Caussidière, 2 vol., 1849 Available online: 1, 2
  • La Restauration de l'autorité, ou l'Opération césarienne, 1852
  • Dans les bois, 1856
  • En Ardenne, par quatre Bohémiens. Namur, Dinant, Han, Saint-Hubert, Houffalize, La Roche, Durbuy, Nandrin, Comblain, Esneux, Tilf, Spa, in collaboration with other writers, 1856
  • Trésors d'art exposés à Manchester en 1857 et provenant des collections royales, des collections publiques et des collections particulières de la Grande-Bretagne, 1857
  • Amsterdam et La Haye. Études sur l'école hollandaise, 1858
  • Çà & là, 1858
  • Musées de la Hollande, 2 vol., 1858–1860
  • Études sur les peintres hollandais et flamands. Galerie d'Arenberg, à Bruxelles avec le catalogue complet de la collection, 1859
  • Musée d'Anvers, 1862
  • Trésors d'art en Angleterre, 1862
  • Van der Meer (Ver Meer) de Delft, 1866

Published posthumously[edit]

  • Les Salons : études de critique et d'esthétique, 3 vol., 1893
  • Thoré-Bürger peint par lui-même : lettres et notes intimes, 1900 Available online