Adolphe Jourdan (French, 1825‐1889)

Maternal Affection

Adolphe Jourdan (French, 1825‐1889) painting dated c. 1860

Jourdan was born in 1825 in the city of Nimes, a city in southern France. At nineteen, he began his training as a painter at the School of Fine Arts in Paris (École des Beaux-Arts), studying under Charles Francois Jalabert, a French Academic artist.

Jourdan delighted audiences in Europe and in the United States with his sentimental domestic genre scenes and romantic visions of motherhood. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon of Painting in 1855, receiving medals in 1864 and 1866. In addition to the French salons, Jourdan exhibited in numerous galleries in New York. After being honored on both continents, Jourdan was employed by a prominent Parisian art dealer to paint replicas of master works, a highly lucrative venture for 19th century artists. His version of Alexandre Cabanel’s famed painting, The Birth of Venus (1864), is replicated frequently, often mistaken as the original image.

Although trained as an Academic painter, Jourdan was respected and admired by some of the greatest French Post-Impressionist painters. On a visit to Pont-Aven in 1866, Jourdan met Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin and developed a lasting friendship.  He was also admired by Vincent Van Gogh, as evidenced by the letters Van Gogh  wrote to his brother, Theo.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother in 1874 and listed the artists he admired most – Jourdan among this impressive list:

From: Vincent van Gogh

To: Theo van Gogh

Date: London, beginning of January 1874

My dear Theo,

Thanks for writing.

I sincerely wish you a very happy New Year. … I saw from your letter that you have art in your blood, and that’s a good thing, old chap. I’m glad you like Millet, Jacque, Schreyer, Lambinet, Frans Hals …. How I’d like to talk to you about art again, but now we can only write to each other ….

I’m writing below a few names of painters whom I like very much indeed: Scheffer, Delaroche, Hébert, Leys, Tissot, Lagye, George Saal, Israëls, Anker, Knaus, Vautier, Jourdan, ….

and another letter written by Van Gogh to his brother Theo:

From: Vincent van Gogh

To: Theo van Gogh

Date: Arles, Friday, 3 May 1889

My dear Theo,

…. Ah, when I wrote to you that we mustn’t forget to appreciate what’s good in those who aren’t Impressionists, I didn’t exactly mean to say that I was urging you to admire the Salon beyond measure, but rather a heap of people like, for example, Jourdan, who has just died in Avignon, Antigna, Feyen-Perrin, all those whom we knew so well before, when we were younger, why forget them or why attach no importance to their present-day equivalents?