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The Return

The Return
signed and dated 'Alfred DeDreux/ 1859' (lower left)
oil on canvas
64 1/4 x 51 in. (163.2 x 131.3 cm.)
The Property of the Trustees of the Knole Second Fund Trust.
Their sale; Christie's, London, 20 May 2005, lot 62, where acquired by the present owner.
M-C. Renauld, l'univers d'Alfred De Dreux 1810-1860, suivi du catalogue raisonné, Arles, 2008, p. 47, no. 193, illustrated, p 212.
Paris, Salon, 1859, no. 792, as 'Le retour'.
Special notice

Following the auction, this lot will be stored at Crozier Park Royal and will be available for collection from 12.00pm on the second business day after the sale. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Crozier Park Royal. All collections from Crozier Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 I Email:

Brought to you by

Adrian Hume-Sayer
Adrian Hume-Sayer Director, Specialist

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Lot Essay

Exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1859, de Dreux's The Death and The Return are two of the artist's most important later works (they were the last pictures he would exhibit at the Salon before his death the following year) both of which are included in this illustrious sale as successive lots (140 and 141). Killed in a duel over payment for a portrait of the Emperor Napoleon III, de Dreux's dramatic death ended an artistic career in its prime. Fêted for his equestrian portraits characterised by their luminous colour and bold modelling, he had already been awarded medals for works exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1834, 1844 and 1848, and the Légion d'honneur in 1857.

De Dreux was born in Paris in 1810, the son of the architect Pierre-Anne de Dreux. His interest in art was fostered from an early age by his uncle, the artist Dedreux-Dorcy, a close friend of the painter Gericault, whose choice of subjects, notably horses, were to have a lasting influence on the young artist. During the 1820s he studied under Léon Cogniet, and his equestrian portrait of The White Stallion, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1831, revealed the strong influence of Stubbs on his work, recalling in particular Stubbs's Horse attacked by a Lion (1770).

From the mid-1840s de Dreux travelled frequently to England where he particularly admired the work of Landseer. In 1848 he crossed the channel with his most influential patron, Louis-Philippe, the Duc d'Orléans. It is likely that de Dreux was brought to the attention of Queen Victoria through Louis-Philippe at this time, painting a portrait of the pair riding in Windsor Park. In turn, the Queen commissioned several works from the artist.

De Dreux passionately enjoyed participating in, as well as painting, equestrian activities. The Death and The Return are exceptionally well painted, and can be regarded as particularly fine examples of the culmination of his artistic career.

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