Eugene Accard

The Charmer

Eugene Accard

The Charmer

This exquisite mid-19th-century oil painting by French artist Eugene Accard (1824-1888) depicts two gentlemen dressed in 18th-century attire courting a seated lady within a fine Rococo interior.

Fawning liberally, he leans towards her with a bow, seeking approval, searching for trivial acknowledgements. She listens, avoids eye contact, and holds a fan to her left cheek. Another suitor waits his turn.

Accard was a master of ‘costume painting’ whereby he’d look back towards an exceedingly romantic time when aristocratic frivolity was deemed the height of good taste. He imbued each piece with theatre, as if we’re looking through a window towards misty-eyed nostalgia.

His patrons adored such playful scenes - not only for their aesthetic but also their deeper symbolism. For instance, here we see the use of a fan to convey a secret message, which could only be read by those who’d studied its connotations. Such was the excitement about fans that Parisian fanmaker, Duvelleroy, published a guide for the uninitiated. A few of its numerous explanations include:

Twirling in the left hand - We are watched.
Presented shut - Do you love me?
Drawing across forehead - You have changed.
Twirling in the right hand - I love another.

And alas for our unlucky gentleman…

Letting it rest on left cheek - No.

If she held it to her right cheek, the ending would’ve been quite different.

Signed and possibly dated in the lower left. Held within a later frame.

Medium: Oil on panel.
Overall size: 14” x 16½” / 36cm x 42cm
Year of creation: c. 1855
Labels & Inscriptions: Label on reverse with the artist’s bio. Further label with title. Gallery label.
Provenance: Dealer, Worcestershire / Private collection, England.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £13,144

Eugene Accard

Eugene Accard

Eugène Accard (1824-1888) was an accomplished French painter of genre scenes, costume paintings, and portraits of society ladies. He was well-admired during his lifetime and exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon.

Learn more about Eugene Accard in our directory.

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