Alfred de Dreux
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He was the first child and only son of the architect Pierre-Anne Dedreux (1788-1834). His sister Élise (1812-1846) was the mother of writer Louis Becq de Fouquières. After his father won the Prix de Rome for architecture in 1815, he lived at the Villa Médicis in Rome. While there, Théodore Géricault, a friend of the family, made portraits of him and Élise.
In 1823, at the urging of his uncle, the painter Pierre-Joseph Dedreux-Dorcy, he began studying art with Géricault and, later, with Léon Cogniet. At this time, horses were already his favorite subject. His first exhibition at the Salon came in 1831. The following year, an equestrian portrait of the Duc d'Orléans became his entry to a position in the workshops of Eugène Isabey.
Shortly before the Duc's untimely death, Dreux made another portrait of him, together with his guards. King Louis-Philippe was pleased with it and, two years later, asked Dreux to accompany him on an official trip to England. He made many return trips there over the next few years. In 1848, he followed the King into exile in Surrey and painted numerous equestrian portraits of the English aristocracy.
He returned to Paris in 1852 and opened a studio where he created more equestrian portraits, this time of Emperor Napoléon III and his family, but still made frequent trips to England. In 1857, he began sharing a studio with Paul Gavarni, who he met while there.
He died from an abscess in his liver that had developed during a stay in England, as evidenced by letters to his family, although a rumor was later circulated that he died in a duel with Count Fleury, Napoleon's aide-de-camp. This rumor is sometimes attributed to Charles Blanc. In 1951, it was repeated in a memoir by Dreux's grandnephew, the writer André de Fouquières.
The logo of Hermès International is based on a drawing by Dreux.
Other selected paintings
- Amaury de Louvencourt: Alfred de Dreux, 1810-1860, Galerie La Cymaise, Paris 1988, ISBN 2-907580-00-0.
- Marie-Christine Renauld: Alfred de Dreux, le peintre du cheval, Caracole, Lausanne 1988, ISBN 2-8289-0286-2.
- Marie-Christine Renauld: Alfred de Dreux, le cheval, passion d'un dandy parisien, Action artistique de la ville de Paris, Paris 1997, ISBN 2-905118-89-X.
- Guy Thibault, Florence de la Roncière: Alfred de Dreux, peintre de chevaux, Ville de Maisons-Laffitte, Maisons-Laffitte 1998, ISBN 2-9511672-1-0.
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