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 Theophile Poilpot  (1848 - 1915)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: panorama painting, military subjects

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
L'embarquement de La Normandie au Havre
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Theophilus Poilpot: Painter historical frescoes  (A Translation)

Born in Paris in 1848, Theophile Poilpot, trained in Fine Arts in the atelier of Jean Leon Gerome, one of the popes of academicism, a "firefighter" in the 19th century who remained faithful all his life to the classic style and its masters.

Gérôme took him with other students to explore the Forest of Fontainebleau, Barbizon Marlotte and their painters, from whom they were initiated into the secrets of nature and its reproduction on canvas.

Poilpot became the painter of bashful lovers, the romantic scenes in the branches, beautiful girls stripping off near a fountain.

Scorning its innovative young contemporary pictorial research, he learned to draw and paint according to tradition, to the mastery of his art. He prepared carefully paintings "well licked" he was in a good student, and report annually to the rooms, essential step for an artist, but where competition was fierce.

After some critical acclaim, a favorable review without this déclanchât a rush on the part of bourgeois buyers, which only allowed a painter to succeed Poilpot tried his hand at painting historical and military paintings. Then, due to the limited success of its large machines, he specialized in popular art: the vast panoramas realization works that are "unfolded" in special rooms.

Mobile panoramas of Poilpot were the subject of traveling exhibitions in Paris where several institutions devoted themselves to this type of paint, before the advent of cinema, then province.

His work met with great success at the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and 1900, as well as abroad, particularly in America.

His fame earned him great controls, including the decoration of the Hall of Arts and Sciences and the Sorbonne's chic Hotel Meurice in Paris. His humor and his kind words liked reporters.
Edmond de Goncourt in his Journal cites one of his jokes, about one of these embezzlers just released from prison whose lavish receptions attracted all Paris: "Come dine with réclusionnaire!"

In 1896, Poilpot had long sought an original place to imagine and work his grandiose projects at ease when he found a charming 12th century church for sale in Croissy.

Closed in November 1793 and converted into "Temple of Reason", the church became a church in 1802, after the Concordat. Disused since the Paris Commune, the very poor building was used as a stable for cows of a farmer in the neighborhood!

Thus Poilpot acquired the Saint-Léonard, saving the building from certain ruin, for the modest sum of 3000 francs. After extensive restoration artist set up his workshop became a "museum of junk" attracting a crowd of onlookers.

He even had the idea to conduct archaeological excavations.

"It ensures that a bishop is buried somewhere under the porch or under the slab of the choir. I'll be looking with all the respect due to him, "he said to a reporter.

The consequences of these investigations is unknown because Poilpot Theophilus was a deadpan who loved climbing hoaxes.

During his travels the artist had accumulated strange objects that can be used as decorations for his views. Thus he acquired one day from Egypt an authentic mummy he brought to France.

Another source claims that he would have bought it in France during the demolition of the Egyptian pavilion at the Universal Exhibition.

For twenty years, Poilpot stayed in Croissy every summer. He became a key figure in the circle of "official art". His funeral in February 1915 was filmed and broadcast in newsreels. He is buried in the cemetery of Croissy.

Thanks to him, Croissy-sur-Seine has kept its oldest monument, the chapel of St. Leonard. Thank you to the artist!

Reference: article in "Side Croissy" No. 10 - September 2004.

"Birth of a Legend: The mummy of Theophilus Poilpot": Apophtegme, //

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A painter of cycloramas* of historical events, Theophile Poilpot was a Frenchman who worked both in his native country and in the United States.  In 1885, under the direction of A.T. Andreas of the Western Art Association, Poilpot and twelve assistants "produced in Chicago what must have been a remarkable panorama painting along the lines of the cycloramas for Gettysburg and Atlanta.  While Poilpot had the entire battle as inspiration for scenes, including the legendary names of Shiloh Church and Pittsburgh Landing, he chose to paint the action in the Hornet's Nest," a position of the rebels and their brigade commanded by James Tuttle.  Thus this panorama with lectures solidly "fixed the term Hornet's Nest in the American mind. (Smith, 62)

In the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889, Poilpot's Petrol Panorama was placed in the rotunda of the Champs-de-Mars, "where spectators, under the impression that they had boarded a ship sailing from Le Havre, felt as though they were in the middle of the ocean.  What was unique to Poilpot's canvas was the fact that it was composed of two semi-circular views, one devoted to 'smiling' Pennsylvania, the other to the barren Caucasus, both oil-producing regions.  It garnered unanimous critical approval despite its unusual configuration." (Comment, 71)

Poilpot has also written several books:  A Comprehensive Sketch of the Merimac and Monitor Naval Battle: Giving an Accurate Account of the Most Important Naval Engagement in the Annals of War and Souvenir of the Royal London Panorama, Leicester Square: Charage of Balaclava (1865).

Timothy B. Smith, Rethinking Shiloh: Myth and Memory
Bernard Comment, The Panorama

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