Paris, July 2nd 1828 – April 12th 1893, Paris 19°
Jules Veyrassat was born in a family where nothing could lead him onto an artistic path. Nevertheless, he went four years at the Free Royal school of design, learning from Henri Lehmann (1844-1885) and Faustin Besson (1815-1882), in a first step being focused on art painting.
As soon as he could afford it, Jules Veyrassat rented a little room in Ecouen and became a student and friend of Pierre Edouard Frere. Having a lot of financial difficulties, to make a living, he was doing engraving copies of famous paintings, like “La famille du menuisier” (The woodworker family) from Rembrandt, “Arabes en voyage” (Travelling Arabic people) from Delacroix or “Geste Napolitain” (Napolitano gesture) from Greuze. These engravings were published, from 1847 to 1859, in the “l’Artiste” (The artist) magazine. Pierre Edouard Frere and Charles Daubigny pushed Jules Veyrassat to work on original etching. In 1948, at the age of 20, he exhibited at the Salon de Paris.
In his landscape paintings, Jules Veyrassat liked to show sceneries of the provincial and rural lifestyle. Even living in Ecouen, he travelled very often to Fontainebleau and Samois where working horses were his primary source of inspiration. He did a lot of paintings showing towing horses. Nobody could show a towing horse with a better and accurate observation than Jules Veyrassat.
Published by Cadart in 1866, a book of fourteen etchings showed several facets of the countryman life, like: “Rentrée des foins” (bringing in hay), “Halage” (Towpath), “Intérieur d’étable” (Inside a stable) and “Cour à Samois” (Farmhouse in Samois).
Jules Veyrassat has been awarded several medals for his engraving works. His competence is confirmed when the British scientist Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894) asked him to work on several of his books concerning the art of engraving. In 1873, he became famous, thanks to the engravings he did to illustrate the Gospel of Alexandre Bida.
On September 6th 1870, Jules Veyrassat was appointed member of the commission in charge of the National museums art conservation. Part of this commission was Honore Daumier (1808-1879) and its president was Gustave Courbet (1819-1877).
Jules Veyrassat had a lot of success, both for his paintings and his engravings. A German magazine called as remarkable a water color named “Le souper des moissonneurs” (The harvesters supper). For his work, he was awarded a medal in 1872 and 1878 then qualified as “hors-concours”. He was nominated as knight of the “Légion d’Honneur” in 1878.
Jules Veyrassat paintings, showing working horses, are a very accurate observation of the French rural lifestyle of his time. Even if he never left France, Jules Veyrassat was famous all over the Europe, most of all in Great-Britain. He was better known there than in his native nation.
Nevertheless, we can regret that, if his paintings are very well appreciated today, his etchings are almost unknown.
For further information, please read the book “L’Ecole d’Ecouen, une colonie de peintres au XIXéme siècle”, unfortunately only available in French for the time being (but we are working on it).